The river basin of the Drentsche Aa, in the northeast of The Netherlands – considered by many to be one of the most beautiful areas in the country – has escaped the wave of post-war land consolidation to be found in the rest of the country. Even so, the area is slowly fragmenting and clogging up. Our landscape plan demonstrates how the drama of the landscape can be brought to life and how the historical layers can be made more visible.
The landscape plan is based on an in-depth, visual, integrated analysis of the landscape, made in cooperation with historical geographers and archaeologists, and its historical development. That development goes back approximately 6,000 years. Design principles are inspired by all phases of history. The plan is based both on history and on nature values and outlines a solution for contemporary conflicts and dilemmas. The new landscape must be strong enough to accommodate new developments.
The plan is predominantly a design approach and contains a large number of proposals on all scales, each consistent with the others, which accentuate the landscape and improve the legibility of the historical elements. Using a number of trial projects, a provocative perspective on the future is presented in which new developments are envisaged in a powerful and pro-active landscape.
The largest remaining heath in the Drentsche Aa area is the Ballooërveld. Our emphasis in the redesign and management plan for the Ballooërveld is on optimal enjoyment of the historical and ecological qualities and the large open space.
The Ballooërveld is like an old skin full of scars in the form of wagon tracks, Celtic fields, barrow mounds, an anti-tank ditch, a trench, osiered windbreaks, wooded banks, water discharges and reclamations. The removal of vertical vegetation makes it easier to see the spatial coherence between all those elements and enables visitors to be overwhelmed by the large number of burial mounds that are often invisible at the moment. At some points there are small reclamations on the large peaceful heath that are bordered by a wooded bank and have thus come to lie on the open heath like striking islands (treasure chambers). Solitary trees and small clusters of trees have been allowed to remain. Thanks to the large degree of variation in the micro-relief of the field, the stroller’s perspective changes at every turn.
Strubben Kniphorstbosch A unique feature of the area is the strubben: strangely shaped oaks that grew when the area was still a heath and was intensively grazed by sheep. The peculiar shape of the large trees is a memory of their difficult youth. With the drop in intensity of grazing on the heath in the course of the 20th century, the old trees have gradually been taken over by young spontaneous growth. One of the measures adopted in the design is to free the old trees so that they can be admired again in all their glory.
The Drentsche Aa landscape concept designed by Strootman Landschapsarchitecten proposes, among other things, to design a number of new belvederes in the Aa area. The new belvederes offer an opportunity to enjoy the cultural-historical and natural qualities of the most unique places in the Drentsche Aa area. In the end, eight places were chosen. The design interventions mostly consist of removing vegetation and creating a unique location where people can enjoy the view. The belvederes were generally designed in a restrained manner with resources from the landscape: soil, vegetation and objects made of untreated wood and rusted steel.
A corporate identity was developed for all the new locations. Furniture, signs, and logos were especially designed for the belvederes. Sculptural seating objects were designed for two of the locations. Native and untreated materials were used for the furniture, such as Douglas fir for the seating objects and perforated, rusted weathering steel for the road signs.
A unique feature of the area is the strubben: strangely shaped oaks that grew when the area was still a heath and was intensively grazed by sheep. The peculiar shape of the large trees is a memory of their difficult youth. With the drop in intensity of grazing on the heath in the course of the 20th century, the old trees have gradually been taken over by young spontaneous growth. One of the measures adopted in the design is to free the old trees so that they can be admired again in all their glory.
Landscape Architecture: Strootman
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Theo Spek (Kenniscentrum Landschap, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen), Hans Elerie, RAAP en NovioConsult Van Spaendonck
Design year: 2003-2004
Year Built: 2005-
Photographer: Harry Cock