Maastricht students have acquired one of the most beautiful learning spaces imaginable: the former military site of the Tapijnkazerne, now transformed into a beautiful green learning environment. It has become a connecting element between city and university and links the various Maastricht parks together.

For almost 100 years, Tapijn was a military barracks site, closed off from the rest of Maastricht. Until the barracks closed in 2010 and the province, municipality and university joined forces. Now the 6-hectare site has been developed into a public city park. The old monumental barracks buildings are still standing and are connected by a cleverly designed underground building. Classic and modern come together in the design, sleek and romantic alternate in the green environment, which has been made attractive to students and local residents.

This project presented an exciting challenge in terms of the buildings. Conservation of monumental buildings and, in addition, a considerable challenge in terms of square metres of new buildings. The old barracks buildings are connected underground by means of a new building, the plinth. By putting most of the building volume under the park, maximum surface area is left for a public park.
The former barracks buildings and the new underground building have already been used for education and research, start-up businesses and study areas. At ground level, there will soon be just one new building; a striking reception building with a modern character that blends in between the historic barracks buildings and the park.

The height of the site has been played with creatively. The roll call area has been lowered so that the underground parts of the building open onto a central area. The teaching spaces all have a direct connection to the park. For instance, the floor of two of the lecture halls extends into the outdoor terrace. The large glass surfaces in the plinth make the buildings an integral part of the park. In doing so, they add a nice contrast to the more closed façades of the existing buildings. The undulations in the park design also made it possible to realise the cycle connection over the Jeker in a landscaped way and to fit in parking spaces with a balanced soil balance.

From the start, the initial situation offered an interesting contrast between the old barracks and the park. The barracks terrain was tight and orthogonally designed around the rectangular roll call area; the grounds exuded functionality and discipline. The park, on the other hand, is romantic and lovely. These seemingly incompatible characters are now linked, without affecting the interesting contrast. The stony inner world of the barracks has been replaced by a green park atmosphere where the monumental barracks buildings have been given their own place. To this end, non-monumental buildings have been demolished. The clear original orthogonal barracks structure is retained as a reference to the past. The different styles are both preserved and connected. The barracks, for instance, have a lowered roll call area that has been kept austere, symmetrical and sober, while the park has a similar lowered terrace that has been decorated in a very frivolous way.

For paving in the outdoor space, materials were taken from the immediate surroundings. Marl from the Maastricht quarries was used to bridge height differences, and natural stone from the surrounding hilly countryside was used for the stairs. 
Sustainable and healthy materials were also taken into account for the new buildings. Cooperation with a local contractor ensured perfect application of these local materials.

The little park along the Jeker was never really a place where people liked to go, but that has clearly changed. In the park, existing elements have been improved and new ones added. The animal pasture has been modernised; moreover, in cooperation with Gaia Zoo, animals that fit in with the surroundings have been chosen. The aviary has been given a nice new square, along the Jeker stream there is space for nature, art and vegetable gardens, the Tapijn garden has been moved and extended, there is a new catering square and an ornamental garden.

New cycling and walking paths make the park accessible. And of course, at various places through the park there is space for sports and games, picnics, walking, skating, cycling and more. As a result, it has become a residential park for everyone. Grateful use is made of the new through bicycle route. The green space around the university grounds, and the rest of the park are used by students and residents for relaxation, sports and to study.

Many efforts were made to create a healthy working and study environment, and sustainability and health were taken into account in almost every decision made. Maastricht University received the Well certificate from the International WELL Building Institute and Green Business Certification Inc., making it the healthiest university in Europe!

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: –
Architecture offices involved in the design: LIAG architects, Jelle de Boer Restauration architect, Frits Bokelman urban planning, VIAC installation advisors, DGMR advisors, Van Der Ven construction consultancy, Mertens construction company

Location: Tapijnkazerne 11, 6211 Maastricht

Design year: 2016 – 2020

Year Completed: 2022


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