First the landscape, then the buildings. After 100 years of isolation, Park Brederode has once again become an integral part of the surrounding landscape. An introduced residential development as part of a landscape architectural design was able to re-enliven a former hospital ground and its surrounds.

Initially seen as an overly drastic change for this area, the design raised many concerns and faced much criticism. Situated just outside the city of Haarlem, the ‘redevelopment’ came after it was earmarked for increased density due to the constant expansion of cities in the Netherlands. Flanked by the city on the east and large dunes buffering the North Sea on the west there was no room for error. The state council thought that the conversion of this historical area could lead to a deterioration of the natural landscape, a natural landscape which had also served as a cultural landscape. It is from this standpoint that the design took shape and the landscape itself was able to be remain one of the key elements of the area’s reformation. 10 years later the design persists as a coming together of histories, one where landscape architecture is used as a means for the land to tell its own story.

Through the design process it became evident that the area existed as a functional landscape with a rich natural history, coupled with overlaps of historical human interventions. The core of the cultural heritage was the prior functioning as hospital grounds as well as prior landscape designs. In terms of landscape designs there was an original mid-1800s park layout by Leonard Springer which included a vision for numerous sightlines largely formed by tree planting, and a pond in the garden design by J.D. Zocher Jr. Both of these elements were retained and celebrated. Over and above the use of information from historians, the plan for the are was made in close collaboration with hydrologists, dendrologists, urbanists and ecologists. The in-depth analyses that had been made were of great help in the face of the opposition that the project encountered. Ultimately, the detailed knowledge and understanding of the area also convinced the municipality and the developer to build far fewer homes than originally proposed in the tender; 310 homes instead of 600. It was in this very negotiation between people, council and the natural environment that the design grew and continues to take shape.

The landscape’s functioning and cultural heritage formed a core part of the vision, while the landscape architectural design had to simultaneously marry this with the introduction of new homes, roads, infrastructure, animals and people. Maike van Stiphout of DS Landscape Architects, when beginning to design the space, had heard the area whisper, “First landscape, then buildings,”. It is with this vision that the large lines in a landscape plan were formed. DS focused on three natural characteristics: young, high dunes on the west side, a water-rich central area, and the old dunes on the Bloemendaal side. The design similarly consists of three zones which run parallel to and are informed by the coastal dunes. On the seaside are the high, young dunes, including the Brederodeduin, one of the highest young dunes. On the land side are the old dunes with existing and new villa neighborhoods of Bloemendaal. Between the two rows of dunes lies the beach plain, the water-rich and relatively flat open zone. The design enhances the biodiversity of these landscape types. The most significant spatial change is the construction of the stream and the extension of the dunes with dune mounds on which the villa neighborhood Duin & Beek was developed.

The key principles in the landscape plan are the open central area and public green space running right up to the facades of buildings. The landscaping for the residential areas was only mentioned in terms of the ambiance that should be created, and as a result more discussion and calculation took place for these parts of the plan. This gave the landscape architect the freedom to introduce elements of surprise when integrating the dwellings. The idea of a park extending to the facades was particularly successful with the two apartment blocks for social housing. In the Duinzicht neighborhood, for example, hedges and paths behind the houses form a winding labyrinth, based on the lines from Springer’s old plan. The labyrinth does not provide access to the gardens: this is public space and explicitly not semi-private backyard access. Cars are guests in Park Brederode, and through roads are absent. Roads without stops throughout the area reinforce the idea of a park.

The initial criticism of Park Brederode was well founded — it was understood that it would require great nuance to unify rich layers of history, ecology and functionality. It is in this regard that the design has been considered consistent, undogmatic and careful, yet undoubtedly grand. It is an example of Landscape Architectural practice that will stand the test of time.

Architecture offices involved in the design: Developers Thunissen ontwikkeling bv and AM wonen bv (united in Park Brederode cv), Urban Planner Anna Vos, Engineering firm Haskoning (RHDHV), Copijn Tree specialists and the municipality of Bloemendaal

Location (publicly accessible project): 52.422637, 4.620555

Design year: 2003

Year Completed:


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