The Bench Without a Name

Thanks to the newly completed Lakenpark, Singelpark now fully encircles Leiden’s historic city centre with an impressive ring of green and blue. The crowning achievement in Lakenpark is De Bank Zonder Naam (The Bench Without a Name).

Singelpark wraps around the city centre, following the contours of Singelgracht. Carving through the greenery, this six-kilometre-long canal is the largest intact urban defence line in Europe. The people of Leiden and the municipality came together to develop an attractive green belt of international allure. Singelpark is a beautiful stretch of nature that invigorates biodiversity and contributes to the city’s sense of community.

Officially opened last summer, Lakenpark represents an important final link in Singelpark’s green chain. The former car park has been transformed into an oasis of nature for neighbouring residents and walkers to enjoy. Undulating hills and a natural playground hide the few remaining parking spaces through clever design. Streetlife’s signature linear bench arrangements function as retaining walls and hug a pedestrian path which cuts through the park. Lakenpark is a place to meet, relax and play. It is a gateway to the history of the locality and evokes a feeling of nostalgia.

The showpiece of Lakenpark, De Bank Zonder Naam, is named after De Zangeres Zonder Naam (The Singer Without a Name), Mary Servaes-Bey, who was born in Leiden. Her music captured the spirit of the working class, the poor and disenfranchised during a transitional period in Dutch history. The bench arrangement is named in honour of this remarkable singer and appropriately situated beneath a monumental tree. An initiative of the Friends of Singelpark, this tribute was financed by the Carolusgulden Foundation which supports elders.

Several of De Zangeres Zonder Naam’s most famous lyrics have been subtly carved into the bench’s backrest, while the surrounding plants hark back to a time when people would often hear these songs played. The extra-long bench arrangements were designed and supplied by Streetlife. These Cliffhanger park benches are also available as standard elements for partial customisation.

The development of Singelpark brings a climate-conscious city centre a step closer. Lakenpark’s wide variety of beautiful trees and flora create a year-round vibrancy and enhance biodiversity. Replanting trees and reducing paving by 40% have also greatly diminished heat stress in the urban core.

Lakenpark was designed as an inclusive project. Residents of all ages contributed their ideas, not least when it came to the stimulating natural playground and diverse planting palette. In line with other projects related to Singelpark, local people help maintain the area. The park thus serves to strengthen a feeling of communality and connects not only green and blue but also residents and their city.

Published on May 6, 2022

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