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masterproject UDP


health care and educational cluster of equine activities masterproject Hoekse Lijn december 2012 author


supervision and tutoring S.S.S.

Rousseau, d.p.l.g. drs. J.G.A. van Zoest

department of Urban Design and Planning Built Environment, University of Technology Eindhoven


location setting

Metropolitan agglomeration tends to be undistinguishable mesh supressing local contrast and quality in variety. Interesting processes happen through the dialogue at the borders, it is important to treat these borders as a quality.

In Hoekse region such interesting border zone lies in Vlaardingen West at the division of the urbanized area (seen as part of Rotterdam conurbation with some 1 000 000 inhabitants) and open unbuilt land – on this case green fields, natural areas and former agricultural land. Proximity of such areas is not extremely exceptional in the Netherlands but here it is particularly interesting due to scale of the urbanization on one hand and degree of natural preservation on the other side. Due to planned character of postwar suburbs the urban structure is organized and division line is relatively legible. Although there are some kinds of recreational activities already developing the benefits of such proximity are not utilized to possible extent. EQUINE: of, relating to, or resembling a horse or the horse family; Latin equinus, from equus horse; akin to Old English eoh horse, Greek hippos, Sanskrit ašva THERAPY: therapeutic treatment, as (a) remedial treatment of mental or bodily disorder (b) an agency (as treatment) designed or serving to bring about rehabilitation or social adjustment—occupational therapy, recreational therapy; New Latin therapia, from Greek therapeia, from therapeuein


health care and educational cluster of equine activities



summary of civic amenities and facilities present in the region





This region is well developed, with relatively saturated demand and without severely unbalanced supply. Extensive and radical interventions are not likely to happen and actually not apparently necessary. The only such action is discussed transition of train to light rail resulting on an improved accessibility and physical connection with Rotterdam.

Under such conditions favourable intervention comes from bottom-up approach, acupuncturing small scale imperfections. Building a strategy upon existing amenities and utilizing them in innovative way is economically reasonable solution. By including these elements in a new interaction aims at creating socio-economic patterns favourable for all interested parties. It is a way of providing maximal benefits with minimal (economical) input.


In this specific location a small scale heuristic approach was chosen. When mapping civic amenities and relations particular attention was paid to a way these could interact and benefit from spatial proximity. Restructuring of those and completing the pattern with necessary interventions later leads to abovementioned goals.


connecting existing facilities in a new pattern



existing structure

Focus of mapping the urban area of Vlaardingen West included three stations in here and adjacent station Schiedam Nieuwland – this being on the side of ever-improved accessibility. Amongst others, there are currently used health care facilities – Vlietland Ziekenhuis near the latter train station and also physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre nearby.

Unbuilt land and its natural qualities are currently economized in means of recreation and tourism in the best accessible parts. Other areas are classified as natural reserves with preserved status. Agriculture and farming is still physically present but its perspectives have to be reviewed and adapt to changing economic conditions. During last years a broad debate was held about constructing an extension of A4 highway and Blankenberg tunnel under Nieuwe Waterweg. Several variants of this have been worked out but realization of each would practically mean cutting this piece of land into halves. As this would affect strictly protected natural areas this topic is highly controversial and the debate still has not came to an end. In this project, such construction is given limited attention because of this uncertainty. This project also assumes continuation in nature preservation and maintenance of current landscape character.



position of relevant specific elements in Vlaardingen West region



Based on abovementioned situation the proposal is creation of HIPPOCAMPUS VLAARDINGEN - health care and educational cluster of equine activities. Integrating the supply and capacity of health care, natural areas and local farmers and other businesses is the base pattern for providing complementary medical therapies and services.

Hippotherapy is part of complementary healing processes arising from contact with live animal – in this case with a horse. These methods developed in Western Europe work in holistic manner and are practised in several ways depending on diagnose. Dutch hippotherapy society (Nederlandse Stichting Helpen met Paarden – Equitherapie (SHP-E(NL)) operates in this field and promotes hippotherapy in the Netherlands.





This being the core of the concept, the whole vision is taken further. Other facilities in the region are taken into account as well –recreation and sport fields and also farms which have already changed their primary focus. Therefore a visitor can find here a golf pitch, surf lake, camping ground and winery, rustic restaurant or antiquity shop. While these are oriented more on travelling tourists they benefit from good accessibility by A20 highway. Presence of Hoekse train line facilitates comprehensive everyday availability. With that and with also several schools located in Vlaardingen and many more in the whole metropolitan area, this region is well suitable for development of community supported agriculture and environmental education activities. Primary scope of the design is area in neighbourhood of Vlaardingen West, between the border of the town and proposed line of A4 highway. This location is example of close proximity of specific land uses and functions and the concentration stands for principals of this proposal. On the other hand, division from other areas is by no means strict and the future extension is possible and embraced.

logical and organizational scheme of proposed framework







therapeutic riding patients (physical care) HEALTHCARE LAYER cure farming patients (psychical care) recreation seekers


recreational riding

LEISURE LAYER sport activities relaxation seekers

citizens (consumers)

hospital care

non-sport relaxation

EDU-ECO LAYER community agriculture students environm. education

relaxation sites sport sites camp site schools


psychical aspect



Contact with an animal and related activities creates appealing dialogue and together with stay in pleasant environment it is a part of psychic and occupational therapy treating autism, speech and language disorders, social skills, stress and improves psychological balance. Clients are of all ages with more specific or general diagnose – even general non-therapic activities which include horse “as a partner” are proved to be beneficial. In this means, the extension to “cure farming” - performing agricultural activities improving social skills and providing education- is possible and welcomed.

physical aspect

Riding uses 3-dimensional rhythmical movement of horseback (similar to walking) evokes response in patients pelvis - foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing – improving arthritis, head injuries and balance disorders, spinal cord injuries (gross motoric skills). Typically this represents either children with growth and motoric disorders or persons rehabilitating from walk-threatening injuries. Also in these diagnoses the aspect of psychical balance and comfort needs to be recognized.


These activities are performed in a triangle client – horse – therapist primarily in a form of riding either indoors or outdoors. This pattern ensures safe and effective progress in pleasant atmosphere which is necessary for creation of a relation between client and horse. Activities carried inside of a riding hall are generally safer nevertheless riding in a natural area brings additional qualities. Other vocational activities take place in and around farm, stable etc.

special form – “Huifbedrijden” – carrying severely disabled persons in a canvas bed stretched over horse’s back – movement of an animal, contact with it and ambiences improves vital functions of people unable of other types of therapy (and even coma patients). This method was actually developed in the Netherlands; always takes place under the roof.

In southern Netherlands SHP-E(NL) already operates similar hippocampus, nevertheless in that case the scope is limited to enclosed area and no other actors are included.



Recreational and relaxing activities taking place can be divided into several categories, nevertheless their character and qualities are not exceptional thus attractive mostly for people from close neighbourhoods. Depending on whether they happen in relation with specific established operator or not they can be distinguished as organized and individual ones.

organized activities

Main organized activity is the golf resort ran by Free Golf Vlaardingen, 27 holes course is designed as “light golf” – that means specific variant of golf game played with lighter ball – that means smaller distances, shorter playing time, lesser physical effort and therefore increased suitability for larger group of users compared to regular game. The pitch is equipped with moderate services which offer golf school, catering and holding of banquets.

Other established facilities are located in neighbourhood of Vlaardingen West as well. This includes several eating opportunities (both separate and as a part of transformed farm). For people that actually come from a further distance, there is a natural camping area.

individual activities

Individual activities represent recreational sporting and experiencing the natural area – partly being protected zone and partly pasture meadows. People are walking or biking since several regional cycling routes meet here. In the northern part there is a water surface used for swimming or windsurfing (specific “surfcats” are used here, being more comfortable and easy to use version of surf) and for fishing. This surface offers different qualities compared to Nieuwe Waterweg which is practically unusable for any other activity than large vessel shipping.




current situation

Agriculture in Netherlands as in most western European countries is changing. Traditional farming has been supressed by mass production and import.

Contrary to other parts of Hoekse Lijn region this area is not involved in glasshouse flowering, smaller farms in here exploit the land for cattle breeding. The area is therefore mostly covered by grass meadow pastures.

Several of the farms, usually family-owned, transformed themselves into winery, restaurant or antique shop. On the other hand some also focus specifically on selling own local products. Creation of direct contact with consumer and bypassing traditional market procedures helps them economically.


Proximity with urbanized areas and closer cooperation in communities can be further exploited towards multiple benefits. Building closer contacts with your food producer and actual participation in the process, raised awareness for environmental issues and economizing of the circle are some of main aspects of this process. In the end the consumers get healthier fresh food, producers find feasible way of earning their living and the whole situation is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Spatial proximity is key aspect of strengthening the relation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport.


Such cooperation is generally known as community supported agriculture and might occur in several specific examples, the easiest one being promoting of purchasing local fresh crops. Further progress lies in involving consumers into various phases of process and letting him participate in the production either on voluntary community basis or through excursions and activities conducted as a part of environmental education at schools.

These actions are beneficial for individuals as well. Working at farm, spending time outside urbanized cities and integrating into community interests is part of occupational therapies. This helps psychical conditions, behavioural patterns and socializing.

Typical extension of CSA throughout the world is also urban farming - conducting these activities in inner city but that is not necessary in specific situation of Hoekse lijn region.




Besides existing facilities new elements need to be physically added particularly in the field of hippotherapy and animal care. This includes indoor riding hall which provide enclosed space with controlled conditions used for specific stages of therapy and also during bad weather.

existing facilities

Relevant offices and employees facilities are to be found within the hospital and the rehabilitation centre. The centre contains exercise space which will of course be retained however training and exercise rooms need to be also part of the riding hall complex.

For horse breeding and general care capacity of the farms in the region is utilized. In this way proposed pattern can organically spread and create a programme including larger area. Distances in proposed extent are small enough to be passed by a horse itself without transport aids. Nevertheless persons need to come from Schiedam hospital or wherever they live and train is preferred way to do that. Even when individual transport is necessary due to physical limitations of client this region is properly served with road network.

other layers

Improvements in other fields are due to their character largely individual.


proposed interventions



Proposal consists of designing the pattern and framework for development of such activity cluster. In principal is rather conceptual logical setting as presented in diagram above. After that it means selecting zones for specific parts of the programme and locations for relevant extensions.


Some qualities are now missing in the area. Since the programme of the proposal is largely dependent on traffic and movement, these concern infrastructure as well. In order to achieve proposed setting the stay in the area has to be safe and enjoyable. Therefore the passing car traffic through minor roads is limited with exception for residents and urgent cases. The passing flow is actually not high even now still it has to be decreased as much as possible. There are parking lots for visitors outside the borders at the area and many of the facilities are located there as well being an entrance points. The territory itself is not very vast and can be easily overcome by foot, bike or horse.

Second way to make the activities purposeful is enabling circulation. Many of the moving activities happening and proposed are not one-way trips but the actor needs to come back – which is not easy with current networking. Existing roads and paths are to be completed in a manner that the route will be appealing in every moment. Comprehensive connections to neighbouring areas are also to be set.

image of the area

Artificially agricultural character of this area cannot be diminished but the look can be enlivened and made more specific by articulating the land by trees. By completing the surrounding circle separating from the highway and by creating regular natural forest rather than geometric grid array of single trees the area will get pleasant atmosphere and compact image.








therapeutic riding


patients (physical care)

cure farming

patients (psychical care)


recreation seekers relaxation seekers citizens (consumers)



hospital care farms

recreational riding sport activities non-sport relaxation community agriculture

relaxation sites sport sites camp site schools

environm. education


Implementation of proposed interventions varies by each level due to actors involved.

By means of public administration can be influenced healthcare level and EDU-ECO level by promoting logical cooperation in terms of organization and by promoting publicprivate partnerships in order to achieve progress in proposed measurements.

Leisure level, the private one, is to be stimulated indirectly. When there will be conditions, opportunities and social atmosphere enough interesting to attract broad public they will come and involve themselves. Discussed transition to light rail will only ease this making such short distance travelling to nature part of their regular programme.



Intentional development of Vlaardingen West region in means of proposed framework will set feasible and sustainable perspective for all parties interested – whether in terms of economy, environment or health and lifestyle.







views of Vlaardingen West landscape



health care and educational cluster of equine activities masterproject Hoekse Lijn december 2012 author


supervision and tutoring S.S.S.


Rousseau, d.p.l.g. drs. J.G.A. van Zoest

department of Urban Design and Planning Built Environment, University of Technology Eindhoven


TU/e: Masterproject Hoekse Lijn  

report for masterproject Urban design and Planning. Vision for Rotterdam/Hoek van Holland region