Zuidpolder Landscape Park, Rotterdam Region, BarendrechtAmsterdamse Poort

The urban area in the Rotterdam agglomeration has grown rapidly over recent decades. In order to improve water quality in the Barendrecht urban area, as well as the recreational and ecological value of the water systems, we worked with the municipality to redesign the Zuidpolder. Around 110 hectares of agricultural land between Barendrecht and the Oude Maas river have therefore been transformed to create a contemporary landscape park with (clean) water storage.

The Zuidpolder, part of the Blauwe Verbinding project, has three functions. Firstly, the storage of clean water for the urban water system, secondly, recreational boating, the cycling and walking route between the Zuiderpark and the Waaltje waterway and thirdly an ecological connection between green spaces in the urban area and (future) nature areas in IJsselmonde.

The design incorporates water storage, recreation and ecology. Together, these functions result in an attractive new landscape on the southern side of Barendrecht. Thanks to a sophisticated water system, clean water will be stored during periods of high water, so that water levels in canals in the urban area can be maintained during drier times. Recreational users now visit the landscape park in high numbers; it is used for canoeing, cycling, walking, roller skating and horse-riding. The De Kleine Duiker petting farm (which we also designed) and the Theehuys Polderzicht cafe (for which we designed the integration) are also popular. Finally, nature has also benefited from the development as a whole. Many farmland, water and woodland birds have found a habitat here, as well as rare plants such as the European yellow rattle and the southern marsh orchid. 

Amsterdam – Residents of Amsterdamse Poort like to go outside to relax in the area. However, they encounter a physical environment that does not exactly contribute to their health; there is little green space, heat stress and flooding pose real risks. CBRE Global Investors, therefore, took the initiative to make the area more sustainable and to have it contribute better to the health of residents and visitors. This in close collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam and residents and entrepreneurs.

CBRE approached Arcadis to elaborate on their plans. Through our publication ‘Healthy City Index’, CBRE knew that we had a lot of knowledge in this area. Together with the renowned architectural firms MVSA, Paul de Ruiter Architects and VOCUS Architecten, we took on this great challenge!

Landscape architect John Boon, who worked on this project, explains: “First we used data and GIS analyses to compare the current situation of Amsterdamse Poort with Amsterdam as a whole and the other 19 cities in our Healthy City Index. Based on this, it quickly became clear where profit could be made. In broad terms, it comes down to less surfacing, more greenery and more opportunities to meet and move.” His colleague Robbert Kruijt adds: “In practice, all that hardening is not necessary at all for the area to function properly. Moreover, we can convert the parking roofs into roof gardens because there is actually a surplus of parking spaces”.

The plan, therefore, provides for a significant reduction in the paved surface and the addition of greenery, both in the public space and in the semi-public courtyards. Exercise is stimulated by, among other things, making the walking routes to the nearby park more attractive and by adding facilities such as sports fields and a climbing wall. Seating furniture is placed in such a way that encounters are stimulated. The view of greenery increases enormously from the houses. CBRE has set up a concrete monitoring program to measure the desired changes.

In the near future, the physical space of Amsterdamse Poort will contribute positively to the health of residents and visitors. Research has shown that people with an increased risk of health problems live in this district. We are therefore proud to be able to make a difference here!

Landscape Architecture: Arcadis

Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Paul de Ruiter (architect), MVSA (architect), Vocus (architect)

Project Location: Bijlmerplein, Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, The Netherlands, Rotterdam Region, Barendrecht

Design year: 2012

Year Built: 2012-2016 and 2021-2022

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