Transformation of industrial quarry into public landscape
After a century of industrial excavation a 100 hectare sandstone quarry will be transformed into a natural reserve and a public recreational landscape. “Reconciling the irreconcilable” became the motto under which an unusual collaboration between a multinational industry, a national nature preservation society, a neighbourhood association, the province and the municipality was forged. They agreed to collaborate in the creation of a unique environment where human and natural developments thrive alongside. Our office has been involved since the very beginning of this process. First, in helping the parties imagine the spatial possibilities of their collaboration. Later, in the realisation of these possibilities through design and construction.
After completion the quarry will consist of three zones: the quarry wil become a public landscape park; the former factory will transform into an innovation campus for concrete production; in between these two a transition zone will be built where these two opposing worlds intersect. The design for the transition zone is inspired by techniques, elements and textures found in the quarry: industrial excavators, heaps of residual flint rock and creeks formed by groundwater seepage. The use of drones allowed for the planning of precise excavations, which were executed in the last years of industrial exploitation. The designed micro-topography forms: pathways that stage views and emphasize unique geological events and spatial effects; a drainage network that doubles as a source for heating and cooling; unique orientation to different plots for future development.
Urban Redevelopment Strategy
Tacloban was hit by a devastating hurricane in 2014. In the aftermath a decision was made to develop the north of the city and to relocate vulnerable households further from the coastline. The displacement of vulnerable communities, however, has time and time again been shown to create more problems than it solves.
Our office was part of the United Nations Urban Lab team that was asked to assist the municipality of Tacloban with the development of a climate change adaptation growth strategy. This was meant to incorporate the remnants of the original relocation sites in the North into a comprehensive urban plan.
The proposal is based on a 3-tiered approach. First it aims to stimulate growth in safe areas through the strategic investment in public road, water and sewage infrastructures. Second, the plan clusters amenities and educational facilities around well connected and safe intersections. Last, a clear drainage network will double as public space and environmental reserve, but also functions as a buffer during floods and storm surges.
Design research into Big Boxes or “Verdozing” in the Netherlands
The last decades a single architectural typology has dominated the world more than any other: the big-box. While first theorized as the representational question of the ‘decorated shed’, the proliferation of anonymous utilitarian boxes demands a broader perspective. While in larger countries the amount of available land makes big-boxes less intrusive, in the Netherlands big-boxes quickly create an unmistakeable mark one the landscape. This proces, coined ‘Verdozing’, pits two of the Dutch most valued identities against each other: Trade vs ‘Polder’.
While some argue that big-boxes are simply the result of the Netherlands’ successful reorientation towards a global economy that is dependent on the seamless integration of international infrastructures. Others lament the destruction of the flat polder lands, which are not only the result of the globally renown waterwork and land-reclamation projects, but are also hot-wired with the Dutch political sensibility of collaboration and compromise.
Our research, commissioned by the College of State Advisors, seeks to first understand the proces of verdozing at various scales from the regional to the architectural and clarify the underlying forces and actors behind their construction. Based on this research, 7 design strategies have been developed that seek to deal with the generic boxes in a more specific approach that is better tailored to the Dutch social and spatial condition. Our findings will be published in the end of 2019.
The development of mobility has a direct and indirect influence on the build environment and vice versa. The formation of urban agglomeration and multi city center urban structures are both cause and result of the rail and road network. Railway station areas are important spacial and economic nodes within these dynamic structures. The mobility landscape is continuously in change. In recent decennia the traditional role of a public transport node is slowly but steadily changing to the role of a general mobility node. As consequence of this transition, its relationship to the urban environment needs to be redefined.
In commission of the college van rijksadviseurs and in collaboration with the province of Limburg and the municipality of Eijsden-Margraten we have researched by the means of design research the possibilities of a train station in an urban periphery in the boarder area of the province of Zuid-Limburg. Here two scenario’s have been put forth in which the consequences of preservation en closure of the station by the year of 2040 have been researched and questioned. This research was conducted in context of a regional urban analysis on the impact of cross-boarder mobility, by the means of a tri-country train connection, which will bind Liège (L), Maastricht (NL) and Aachen (D) in the future.
Regional Study of Industrial Landscapes
Business parks reveal the consequences of development that is guided by the relentless optimization of consumption and production processes. As such they hold a mirror to our globalized society and challenge many of our long-cherished conceptions of city and landscape. Nonetheless, or because of this, the topic is structurally dismissed in the debate among architects and urbanists.
This design research was commissioned by the Board of Government Advisors and the province of South Holland. The question was to look at business parks from a regional perspective. Instead of approaching the assignment as an aesthetic issue, we focussed on the underlying systems and mechanisms that determine the establishment of business parks, namely: environmental zoning, land speculation, and regional infrastructure.
Our proposal explores the opportunities of re-using the old waterways that formed the backbone of regional commerce in the past. “City Ports” are proposed as transfer hubs strategically positioned in between the massive logistic landscape of the port of Rotterdam and future cities where clean industries and housing could co-exist once again. This proposal thus establishes a regional basis for an urban and architectural task that seeks to gain control over the proliferation of business parks and to reintegrate parts of the peripheral economy into the urban environment.