During the renovation of the previously closed sanatorium complex, a protected national monument, maximum effort was made on ‘preservation through development’. The realization of a number of carefully fitted new homes allowed the historic complex, including the garden and park, to be restored. The combination of old and new construction provides surprising perspectives in the area.

De Hooge Riet, the former GGZ grounds, are located in the middle of Ermelo, positioned between the railway station and the center of the village. The healthcare complex, designed at the beginning of the 20th century by architect E.J. Rothuizen is known to almost every resident of Ermelo. Eventually, owner GGz Centraal sold the site to developer Heijmans through a bidding procedure.

After years of vacancy and decay, people now live on De Hooge Riet again, not temporarily as patients but permanently in one of the new homes. De Hooge Riet was a place to recover and relax. Enjoying light, air and space was the motto, which is also reflected in the building and its park-like surroundings. The new situation once again emphasizes these qualities. But where no one was welcome behind the gates in the past, the site has now become part of the village. The greenery in front of the main building has become a public park. The park area in front of the main building has been renovated, restoring historical sightlines, borders, the pond, and pathways.

In order to preserve the nationally listed building complex and the associated historic park design by landscape architect Vroom for the future, sustainable repurposing was necessary. The characteristic complex has been preserved for the village by transforming it into a residential complex. In addition, some new construction was also necessary to make the entire project financially feasible. The urban development plan for the renovation was drawn up by H+N+S, first in collaboration with De Zwarte Hond, and later with Diederendirrix Architecten (new construction) and Hylkema Erfgoed (old construction). H+N+S also drew up the design for the park and garden construction, in collaboration with Jacqueline van der Kloet.

At the core of the plan lies a simple yet powerful concept with three subareas: GARDEN – PARK – FOREST. This division forms the basis of the urban design and also the design of the outdoor space. Each subarea focuses on enhancing its own atmosphere and quality.

The forest edge frames the area on three sides, providing a ‘backdrop’. A number of semi-detached houses have been integrated into the edge of the forest. The park at the front is the appropriate backdrop to the characteristic main building. The park has been renovated but exudes the atmosphere as designed by Vroom.

The modern era is most evident in the gardens around and between the buildings. The two-storey new building is situated in such a way that it forms a collar around the old building of the monument, rounding it off. This creates seven collective courtyards. The courtyards give the area its own character and provide a unique living atmosphere that did not previously exist in Ermelo. Each courtyard has its own accent, with a herb garden, flower (picking) garden, and a forest garden.

The park and buildings were designed in close connection with each other at the time, by architect Rothuizen and landscape architect Vroom. The site had deteriorated considerably and virtually nothing was recognizable of the carefully landscaped and managed site from the early days.

Times have naturally changed since the initial construction, as have the use and programmatic requirements. But the new plan exudes the same love. The designers have spent a lot of time and care on a plan in which the old and the new relate well to each other. A lot of attention has also been paid to the garden partitions.

A great quality of the site is the presence of many old, often monumental trees. When situating the new construction, the valuable forest elements and trees were taken into account: the new construction was ‘shoehorned’ between the existing trees.

In addition to careful handling of the existing greenery, attention has been paid to enhancing biodiversity. In the park and forest section, primarily native species have been used. There has also been a focus on nature-inclusive design. Bee hotels and hedgehog houses have been placed throughout the site, and hiding places for small animals have been created in the form of messy corners and a ‘wall of wilderness’. The planting plan also takes into account the needs of native birds and insects through the choice of species. ‘Landscape’ species have been chosen for the hedges, with fruit-bearing and thorny plants, where birds can hide and forage.

Architecture offices involved in the design: DiederenDirrix Architects and Hylkema Erfgoed

Location: Dokter van Dalelaan, Ermelo

Design year: 2017-2023

Year Completed: 2023


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