DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism

DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism is a celebrated studio for landscape architecture with an affinity for urban design. DELVA was founded in 2008 and has grown into a leading office within the work field with a team of 25 enthusiastic professionals in the heart of Amsterdam. A team that always works to give meaning to the new function of the landscape and to strengthen the perception of it.

DELVA is directed by founder Steven Delva, nowadays together with Sander van den Bosch, Jeroen Jacobs and Emiel Swinnen. Based in Amsterdam (NL), the team of landscape architects, urban planners, designers and cultural technicians work on major current challenges such as sustainable urbanization, nature development and the changing meaning of the public domain. A multidisciplinary approach is central to this, which is characterized by co-creation and collaboration.


DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism uses a specific working method in their design and research. Research is followed by clear concepts that are visually designed to enable broad communication. They form the basis of strategic interventions and powerful designs. The office uses the strengths of existing plans or existing developments and processes to reinforce current qualities and to give a new context and meaning.

Our goal is to give meaning to the new function of the landscape and to enhance its experience. An important starting point and nourishment for our ideas and designs is the uniqueness of the place. We therefore give ourselves the task to get to know and experience the landscape through and through. In addition to the program requirements, this thorough landscape analysis provides us with the material to organize and arrange the landscape for use and experience and thus making it known again to everyone who stays, visits, or passes by.

In our projects, densifying always goes hand in hand with greenifying and sustainability. We use projects of construction or transformation as a means to focus strongly on greenifying, making the environment climate-resilient and increasing its residential quality. We see the landscape as the backbone of a place and are always looking for special synergies between the open space and the built environment.

Casino building Middelkerke (BE)

With the new Casino building in the coastal town of Middelkerke, DELVA presents a renewed dune landscape on the Belgian coast. The multifunctional dike is a technical tour de force with a strong aesthetic. A complete building for culture and leisure is merged into one iconic landscape that functions as a public destination along the Belgian coast. The building is integrated into a renewed landscape that rewrites the historic relationship of the seaside town with the sea. The construction of the building was conceived as an opportunity to work on flood risk management (dike reinforcement), public space quality, making the seawall car-free and connecting the central square to the sea. Inspiration was found in the origin of the town. Middelkerke originated on the island of Testerep and was able to grow into an abundant fishing village through the natural protection of a dune and a direct connection to the North Sea via a natural canal. The dunes and water channels of Middelkerke disappeared systematically as a result of urbanization over the last century. The construction of the casino building in Middelkerke functions as a tool to bring back a piece of historic coastal landscape in a contemporary way. The building program nestles itself naturally in this coastal landscape. The dunes and streams guide flows of visitors along the building and its surroundings, and bring people easily from land to sea. The green planters, a mix of dune grasses, herbs and coastal flowers, create spaces for terraces and give shelter for the strong winds. From the roof of the building visitors will have an exceptional view over the seaside. The base is topped with a strong volume that has a modest footprint that takes up as little space of the public realm as possible. It houses the hotel that stands like a boulder amidst this elevated landscape. The form is simple but mysterious, referring to the shapes and colours of nature and of the fishing port.

VDMA, Eindhoven (NL)

With the transformation of the VDMA-site in Eindhoven, DELVA – in collaboration with OMA, Diederendirrix and FABRICations – creates an actual forest in the city centre. It is an exemplary project in which we use new development as an opportunity to radically “greenify” the urban fabric. The VDMA-site covers an area of approximately 75,000 m2 and will transform into a lively urban hub for living, working and recreation. The city forest is a radical green public space that forms a quiet, publicly accessible heart of nature. The city forest brings the experience of nature to the city, but also strengthens biodiversity, increases water storage, reduces heat stress, improves air quality and has a positive effect on the health of residents and visitors. This native forest of around 3,800 m2 is based on the character of two local forest types. It is not only a space for people, to meet and relax, but also a place for insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals. ‘The Loop’ is a recognisable and publicly accessible route that connects all parts of the development. It connects buildings, the forest and the roofs as well as residents, visitors and users with one another. It also functions as a link that ties together the key design themes such as health, ecology, renewable resources and residual flows. A crucial concept in the design of VDMA is the ‘Eindhoven Layer’, an interactive and vibrant elevated public space facilitating street sports, an outdoor gym, a climbing wall and a rooftop cinema. This layer plays a key role in contributing to a healthy and active lifestyle to be found in this ambitious development.

Spatial Framework Buiksloterham

Buiksloterham, a former industrial area in the north of Amsterdam, is rapidly transforming from an area for heavy industrial production and port-related activity to a circular and productive neighbourhood where people live and work, with space for more than 8,000 homes, schools, companies, parks, and new mobility. The framework allows BSH to continue to develop innovatively. With this vision, we create a connection between governments, investors and landowners. But also between green, water, ecology, housing, mobility, economy. And always keeping the unique character of Buiksloterham as a starting point. This framework tells the story of Buiksloterham, the vision of future developments and it establishes the main outlines and structures. It facilitates ways to achieve further developments within Buiksloterham.Nine guiding principles have been added that emphasize Buiksloterham’s ambitions and guide future developments. Together they form a liveable, climate-proof and productive neighbourhood.  Difficult challenges are turned into cost-reducing, social and ecologically interesting opportunities for the area. And through the proposal of an intensive, inseparable connection between green, sustainability, circularity, housing, work and new mobility concepts, we arrive at a financially feasible plan. The framework was created in co-design with the municipality of Amsterdam, Studioninedots, Space and Matter, Civic en Workshop. By creating intensive links between the various policy departments, the framework facilitates all set ambitions. This results in an unprecedented integral plan that presents a high quality of life.

Merwe-Vierhaven (M4H), Rotterdam (NL)

“M4H: Future in the making” is not a traditional plan, but based on the continuous development of the Merwe Vierhaven, a port area the size of Rotterdam’s city centre. M4H develops into a breeding ground for the innovative manufacturing industry and stays (economically) interesting for both city and harbour. It offers space for educational institutions, creative makers and housing, cultural facilities, restaurants and shops. The incorporation of many parks and green spaces turn this industrial area to a neighbourhood for living and working. The innovative manufacturing industry that is evolving in M4H can flourish into a vibrant and creative city district. The area is at the same time a breeding ground, testing ground and showcase for the circular economy of the future for the entire region. Transforming M4H into a green city district will generate a high quality of life, reduces heat stress and introduces biodiversity. Buildings, streets, squares, parks and water form the basis for a beautiful and functional urban ecosystem to flourish. Each development contributes to achieving a climate-adaptive and nature-inclusive M4H. The guiding principles are designed for the further transformation of M4H. The purposes of each principle are to transform M4H into an inclusive, circular and future proof area. The eight guiding principles for sustainable urban development all fit within an overarching Leitmotiv: collectivity as the basis for circularity. The Spatial Framework is unique in its collaboration between DELVA, the city of Rotterdam and the Rotterdam Port Authority. With the framework, developers, companies and other interested parties know what opportunities there are, what quality level is required and the expectation of them.

Het Oog

Following the design or the urban plan for Strandeiland, DELVA elaborates on the water that is at the heart of this new city district. Combining engineering, biochemistry and nature, we create a unique place for humans and animals within a high urban environment. Strandeiland, currently under construction, is a new piece of city that arises in the water on the north east of Amsterdam. Het Oog (the Eye), the water at the heart of this new district, has been developed into a working (under)water landscape park. It is a large inland water, situated on top of an ancient gully, where construction cannot be realised because of its soft clay soil. The design creates the ecological system of this inland water and forms the last link in the ingenious water system of the district, as it purifies rest water from the sanitation system. This is combined with a great experience-landscape where relaxation, cooling off, rest, sports and meeting play a central role. The plan for the man-made water structure focuses on 3 themes: water quality, water ecology and water recreation. It bundles these 3 themes and translates them spatially into one coherent design that is powerful on a large scale but also accurately sets the size of open spaces and use of vegetation on a small scale. The plan is the final piece of an ingenious water system on the island and ensures a sustainable and natural purification of the tank with water.

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