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Koopmansplein · Assen, the Netherlands

A futureproof heart for Assen's city centre

Play, celebration and relaxation at Koopmansplein


Our design for the Koopmansplein in Assen brings greenery, water and vibrancy deep into the city centre. The plan turns the square into a natural and attractive junction in the walking routes of the surrounding shopping area. The renovated square also contributes to futureproofing Assen, with natural cooling in the summer and a smart rainwater collection system.

Assen, the Netherlands
2019 - 2022
Project area
6200 m²
Gemeente Assen
Photography credits
photography by Marcel J. de Jong, Melle van Dijk, Silko van der Vliet

Winning design

In 2019, the public selected our proposal as the design to be implemented for a renovated Koopmansplein. Based on the wishes of the residents, combined with the orientation, location, height differences, history and routes, our design divides the square into three overlapping, coherent zones. These zones make the square appear smaller visually and ensure a logical organisation that gives all wishes and guiding principles a natural place.

Creator of meaningful places

A connected place

The design for the Koopmansplein focuses on connecting; between the different parts of the city centre, but also between residents, visitors and local entrepreneurs. The square is emphatically designed as a place with its very own character, but on the other hand it also blends into the urban fabric of Assen. Adjacent streets extend naturally along the edges of the square.

This concept also offers sustainable flexibility to a wider area of the city, making the construction of the square the starting point of a more extensive transformation. The solid central square surface with a bonded foundation makes the advent of large events, vehicles and attractions with heavy loads possible. The surrounding perimeter, with water absorbing clinker paving, makes it easy to make minor adjustments during transformations of the surrounding structures. Cables and pipes have also been moved to this zone to make repair work easy and to prevent damage and restrictions on the central square area.


Green quality of stay


The south side of the square is designed as an area for stay and recreation. Hospitable for young and old, it is logically connected to the main shopping routes and canal structure. New, large trees provide shade and cooling in the summer. Among the plantings there are seating areas where people can sit alone or together in different ways. This design result was the outcome of an extensive testing process on site, in which the height and seating angle of the benches were tailored to the needs of the elderly in test set-ups.

Creator of meaningful places
Working together with the local children on best playground design
Creator of meaningful places

Multifaceted playing area

On the north side of the square, the program is located in “islands” on the square, embedded in a decor of colorful and varied plantings. These islands have been programmed with play areas, a stage, public seating areas and terraces. The concept for the playground in the form of an abstract climbing dolmen was devised together with the Assen Children’s Council.


Eye-catcher and water buffer


The play area transitions into the central eye-catcher on the square: an interactive fountain that provides cooling on hot summer days and provides a natural opportunity for play. At special occasions, animations that tell the story of Assen are projected in the fountain’s mist, creating a dynamic spectacle.


Space for celebration

The square has been visually reduced by the chosen layout, so that it matches the human scale in everyday life and provides space for the needs of young and old. At the same time, the design ensures that the square still provides the desired space for large celebrations such as fairs, concerts and the TT’s annual closing party.

Creator of meaningful places

The represents an opportunity for the future-proofing of the Asser city centre. As it is a contemporary marking of the transition from the Weiersdiep into the canal that was once located here, it is located at the lowest point in the city centre. By creating a water collection system under the square that can accommodate excess water from surrounding areas, even during heavy rainfall, we have created a new water buffer for the city. The water itself can then be used for irrigation in dry periods.

For this end, the slopes on the paving have been designed in such a way that water concentrates on the central square surface during heavy rainfall, while the circulation and surrounding buildings are spared. All this without compromising accessibility; all parts of the square are accessible without stairs or ramps.


A welcoming, climate resilient and inclusive city centre

Koopmansplein is part of the entire vision for Assen’s city centre. Learn more about this project.

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