Karres en Brands was established by Sylvia Karres and Bart Brands in 1997. Since than Karres en Brands has worked on diverse projects, studies and competitions, both at home and abroad. Our work encompasses every scale of spatial design, from area strategies and infrastructural projects to parks and gardens, and from urban planning assignments to product design. With this we rely on our enthusiasm and craftsmanship, and we continuously broaden our outlook towards developing appropriate and innovative responses to the challenges of today.
SUSTAINABLE AND FLEXIBLE With a view to a sustainable, comfortable and healthy living environment we envision important undertakings in design. Challenges such as climate change, energy issues and demographic developments require a smart and thoughtful approach. The trick is to not generate fixed conceptions, but rather to create powerful conditions and to leave room for spontaneity. A plan is only flexible and sustainable if its spatial quality does not suffer changes in programme and design. We make plans with a robust structure in which space is given to natural and human processes.
THE DESIGNER AS ACTIVATOR Because of today’s economic conditions, a new age has dawned for landscape architects and urban planners. Spatial programmes have become uncertain. This new time results in a changing role for the designer, wherein a strategic and initiating attitude is important – we operate in this respect increasingly as director. Proactively, we commit ourselves not only to the product, but also to guiding the steps in the process, which is crucial: we formulate and schedule urgent tasks. In doing so, we work with architects, artists, sociologists, ecologists and engineers, among others. Our bureau is a cross-disciplinary, network-centric organization.
EXPLORATIVE DESIGNING A successful plan begins with a clear idea that has the opportunity to grow during the planning process. Its success is determined by the exploration and careful consideration of alternatives. In this way, the actual task becomes clear. With an eye for results, our designs evolve in a cyclical manner. Our work is characterised by a balance between common sense, intuition and maximum creativity. We are curious, and open ourselves to further development and inspiration.
TRANSFORMATION AND REINTERPRETATION History is an indispensable aspect of our work. Our experience is a rich source from which we can rediscover and learn. Making use of history, however, does not automatically lead to historicising design – reinterpretation is often the key to an engaging transformation. Our designs do justice to past and present, and themselves form the basis for a new future. This makes our projects layered and extraordinary.
THE ART OF MAKING Our projects are not only based on strong spatial concepts, but are also achievable and carefully detailed. In this sense, we do not disregard the everyday and the essence of our profession: beauty and the spatial perception of a place. Well-balanced design can reveal hidden qualities in the landscape. With our projects we add new layers to the landscape; contemporary and recognisable. Our commitment is based on the belief that through our projects we can make a contribution to an attractive, healthy and sustainable environment, now and later. We create designs with a powerful identity, strongly related to the specific context, but also resilient and open enough to respond to uncertain futures.
Burial, cremation, and remembrance are the primary functions of De Nieuwe Ooster. With a size of 33 hectares and 28,000 burial plots, De Nieuwe Ooster, a national monument, is one of the largest cemeteries in the Netherlands. The cemetery was developed in roughly three phases: 1889, 1915, and 1928. Leonard Springer designed the first and second phases while the third being designed by the public works department of the city of Amsterdam. In 2001 Karres en Brands won the design competition for the ash burial fields and designed the cemeteries large transformation that took place between 2001 and 2015.
Cemeteries are mirrors of society; they offer an image of the relationship between collective and individual, the actual social relations, the prevailing idea of nature, the traditions of burial, and developments in the field of design and landscaping. To monitor new developments and guide the coherence of the whole, Karres en Brands prepared a masterplan for the De Nieuwe Ooster, in several phases. The plan is based on three layers that determine the main structure, thus also any future developments. It facilitates the strengthening of the variations between the three different zones, which result from the cemetery’s development history and the improvement of the internally spacious main structure. The idea of the barcode forms not only a contrast in form, but also reflects the idea that in our present multicultural society people are more colourful but have an equal position.
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands / size: 33 hectares, (ash burialfield: 1 hectare) / Design: 2004 – 2006 / construction: 2005 – present / Status: Realised / Client: De Nieuwe Ooster / Award: Nomination Rosa Barba Prize 2006 / Golden Pyramid 2014
Federation Square, built over a railway yard, is a complex integration of cultural institutions, public places, and commercial facilities. The whole was built on the occasion of the centenary of the Federation of Australian States. The total project comprises an area of approximately 45,000 m² and includes a new Museum of Australian Art, a square of 7,500 m², a public atrium, a digital and film arts centre, commercial facilities, and television studios.
The basis of the plan is to create a new urban structuring that can respond to new uses and simultaneously sustain relationships with the surrounding metropolitan context. Hereby, in the true sense of the term ‘federation’, diverse elements that form a complex ensemble of the idiosyncratic and the collective are brought together. Instead of making a controlled enclave, relationships with the surrounding area are established. With this, a high degree of accessibility is pursued, and recreational and cultural facilities are interwoven.
Federation Square is not a continuation of the existing urban grid, but a new artificial condition on the railway that forms a relationship between city and river, and thereby attempts to overstep traditional boundaries. This new urban landscape is not a residual area, therefore, but an integrated part of the city. Aside from the outdoor area, the public space is not only an integral part of the buildings, but also streets, passage, square, garden, concert hall, parks, and theatre—simultaneously.
Location Melbourne, Australia / assignment: Design square and public space / size: 4.5 hectares / Design : 1997 – 2000 / construction: 2000 – 2004 / Status: Realised / Budget: € 8.8 Mio / Client: Melbourne Office of Major Projects / In collaboration with Lab Architecture Studio, Bates Smart / Awards: Victorian and Tasmanian Award for Excellence for Design in Landscape Architecture (2003)
In the last decade Karres en Brands, in cooperation with Polyform Arkitekter, won two international competitions for public space projects in Copenhagen: Købmagergade and Statens Museum for Kunst. Købmagergade is a major shopping street and along with the squares Hauser Plads, Kultorvet and Trinitatis Kirkeplads this long street forms a characteristic image of the medieval centre. The road was known for its shabby decor, a stagnant commercial base, and a lack of connection. A full refurbishment was necessary. Part of the assignment is Center for Renhold, a former parking garage underneath Hauser Plads that has been transformed into the offices of the municipal cleaning services. Its sunken position forms a hidden gem in the historic core. The project is a good example of reuse (an outdated garage) and dual land use (a playground and the premises of the Cleaning Services Centre) in a historical context.
Statens Museum for Kunst is the redesign of the museum garden of the Statens Museum for Kunst. The design, ‘SMK tilbage i Parken’ (SMK returns in the Park) connects the museum garden with the Østre Anlæg park, located on the city’s former fortifications. With this, the SMK will become naturally embedded in the park, by which it in fact revises the previous situation. The museum garden thus forms the new entrance area for the SMK and Østre Anlæg. The design is simple, distinctive and flexible. The new plan offers an alternative to the huge, monolithic building, and uses the terrain’s existing shifts in elevation. The heart of the museum garden is a ‘base’, a unique water feature that can be used as a stage for the museum, city life, and other activities.
Science Park, in the east of Amsterdam, is a high-quality, international knowledge centre where companies and scientific institutions in the fields of science, mathematics, computer science, biotechnology, and life science are housed. The link between education and business is central to the development. The primary ambition is a far-reaching cooperation between scientific education, research, and knowledge-intensive activities among the various components of Science Park.
Karres en Brands (i.c.w. KCAP) drafted a masterplan for the development of Science Park over the next twenty years. A clear zonation is laid out on the 54-hectare site that distinguishes between a built and an unbuilt structure. The basic structure consists of east/west-oriented construction strips parallel to the original polder structure and separated by green polder corridors. With this, the original scenic orientation and long sight lines return to the area. The corridors are used for logistical functions, such as loading and unloading, pipeline routes, and water. The structure is intersected by a recognisably shaped system of paths, like a branching of the network.
For the elaboration of the buildings and public spaces, no precise alignments or volumes are set, but rules that respond to changing circumstances and the various architectural perspectives are established. Materials are pure and have a natural colour scheme, whereby the urban context is maintained while architectural freedom is guaranteed.
Role: design public space, in several phases and supervisor for the development of the landscape and the urban integration of the new faculty buildings and other facilities / Location: Amsterdam / assignment: Masterplan, design public space, supervision / size: 54 hectares / Design: 2000 – present / construction: 2008 – present / Status: under construction / Client: University of Amsterdam, Municipality of Amsterdam, NWO / In collaboration with: KCAP
Lively and vibrant city of the future connects cultural landscape and inhabitants
Within the proposal ‘the Connected City’, Karres en Brands together with ADEPT and Transsolar are developing the masterplan for a 360 ha area close to Hamburg City Center. Close to both city and landscape, Oberbillwerder is the largest one-off development in Germany since Hafen City. Fully built, the masterplan will include about 1.000.000 m² in a mix of housing (7000 houses), business (5000 workplaces), shopping, public buildings and recreational activities.
The infrastructure in the Connected City ensures rapid connections to Hamburg’s city center but prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, while looking into the future of mobility. The unifying green artery that encircles the plan provides access to all neighbourhoods, public buildings and recreational activities. The overall development strategy embraces social, financial and environmental sustainability as well as climate adaption though a nuanced distribution of functions, typologies and resources.
A mosaic of neighborhoods are formed within the masterplan, linked by pedestrian and cyclist friendly streets and blue/green arteries. The different characters are defines by climate adaption: wide canals, large green rain beds and narrow blue streams, or concave street profiles and thin linear trenches. The future inhabitants can then choose a way of living; canal living, landscape living or urban living. Each of these, the starting point of developing unique housing typologies and collective facilities.