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THE POLDER EXPERIENCE PAOLA BARCENA MAPI

HYBRID LANDSCAPE | RONDE VENEN EUROPEAN POSTGRADUATE MASTERS IN URBANISM Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE PAOLA BARCENA MAPI

INDEX 1.

A FOREIGNER’S VIEW

2.

HYBRID LANDSCAPE

3.

THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

4.

WATER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP

5.

DESIGNING WITH HISTORY

6.

CONCLUSIONS

HYBRID LANDSCAPE | RONDE VENEN EUROPEAN POSTGRADUATE MASTERS IN URBANISM Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

HYBRID LANDSCAPE | RONDE VENEN EUROPEAN POSTGRADUATE MASTERS IN URBANISM Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

HYBRID LANDSCAPE | RONDE VENEN EUROPEAN POSTGRADUATE MASTERS IN URBANISM Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

HYBRID LANDSCAPE | RONDE VENEN EUROPEAN POSTGRADUATE MASTERS IN URBANISM Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories


WHAT IS LANDSCAPE?

1. A FOREIGNER’S VIEW A design research about Hybrid Landscape located in the Netherlands must start by familiarizing oneself to the context and meaning of the site. The following paragraphs are a first approximation to my understanding of this context as a Mexican looking closely into the Dutch landscape for the first time. The process of gaining land from the sea results in a rigid orthogonal design that is set aside from the wild natural environment found in the various regions of Mexico. My earliest impression of the Dutch rural landscape is a predesigned and artificially gridded land reclamation that combines economic activities, history, changes in the population’s needs, geological characteristics, and land exploitation. Landscape is the result of cultural, economical, social, intellectual, geological relationships interweaving to result in a patchwork of urban and rural areas. It is easy to observe a cultural design which is closely related with the economic activities; the natural aspects of the land are an issue to be dealt with and a statement of man’s triumph over the sea’s reclamation of land.


Landscape is history and a time notion. Landscape is a language that reflects the relation between the physical space and what people have done of it throughout the years. Patterns emerge from the interactions between the environment and human land use, thus associating people and place; people and historic events. It is the language that translates the nation’s common history into a visible design tissue of how the environment functions, looks and feels. This design is imposed into the physical space; everything is fabricated to fit into the grid layout with a specified purpose. Landscape is the raw material and the product of design. The Dutch people have learned to use the different characteristics of land, its qualities and limitations to manipulate them and get benefits thus profiting from it. It is raw material because it is constantly changed; different land use, floods, land reclamation, reparceling, urbanizations, etc. But it is also the product of a design; it has a defined pattern, the planning and execution of the process carried on by men is evident. Dutch landscape is completely dominated by men. Everything has been manipulated to serve a purpose, the land and the animals; this creates an inorganic concept of landscape. All the elements are thought through and placed in a specific location, creating rigid, non-natural, man-made patterns easy to observe. The land is designed, the water is managed, and the animals are adapted to the changes imposed. All of this creates an artificial image, like that of a production line which is the result of a culture that is relentlessly regulated in pursuit of a standard of living. Being a welfare state, the government provides for the population’s basic needs, so the Dutch culture has an evolved position in which personal satisfaction is not achieved by the accumulation of resources, but rather people can turn their attention into a more pure type of fulfillment. The organic characteristics of wild natural reserves exist now only in the form of intellectual growth, in immaterial things like ideas, feelings, research, emotions‌ This brings us to the concept that landscape must recover its spontaneous and original qualities, but returning to nature wildness is not true either because the current situation of the Dutch low lands is not sustainable, so we must try a more abstract but still organic approach: Experiential Landscape.


According to the creators of Experiential Landscape; Place Research and Development Unit, Dr. Kevin Thwaites of the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield and Ian Simkins, who practices as a Chartered Landscape Architect and freelance Landscape Consultant; quality of human life depends, in part, on there being a close bond of association between open space and human experience. When people develop a sense of orientation they come to identify and attach significance to particular locations. Experiential landscape brings the spontaneity back into the landscape through its perception. I want to experiment with this approach that relates outdoor open (orthogonal) space and a range of human experiences in order to attach a new meaning to the landscape of our site, The Ronde Venen, besides the [beautiful] productive exploitation rural area that is currently perceived.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS The first visit to the Ronde Venen, produced a series of impressions. The beautiful countryside image was filled with typical farm houses; agricultural land, colorful skies, and the golden lines created by the sparkling sun on the canal water; but most of all it was a very tranquil and quiet area. Except for the more densely urbanized areas, the Ronde Venen seemed to be free of people, no one seemed to be working the land nor enjoying the recreational waterways. The natural elements of the landscape were the main stars in the image. The wind made itself strongly evident through the movement of trees and plants, clearly establishing the coherent creation of the windmills to make this natural element work for man’s benefit. The other main component of the landscape image, the water, caused a great impression because of its dual qualities. On one hand the water is a threat and something to get rid of in order to be able to use the land, on the other, maintaining the current groundwater level is what avoids the polder to keep sinking. Water delimits the gridded farmland; it divides the land into properties, avoids people from accessing the land directly; however it is also a network, it connects different areas together and provides a carrier for transportation and communication. These elements provide an excellent starting point to exploit the zeit geist in the project of the experiential landscape- THE POLDER EXPERIENCE.


2. HYBRID LANDSCAPE “God created the world, except for the Netherlands. The Dutch took it from the sea.� In a nation where most of the land surface has been reclaimed from the sea and has to be constantly defended against floods, urban settlement has not been timid in its sprawl. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries; this colonization process has been preceded by a carefully planned design which includes the manipulation and control of every square centimeter in the country.

So if the question stated is if there is some pure, autonomous landscape? Context plays a key role, since it influences a very different approximation if


compared to a place where the natural geomorphology has never been touched my man. Nature and its elements are organic, and man intervention can be considered as an artificial order imposed onto nature, having this in mind it is very obvious that the landscape is hybrid. However, this relationship goes far beyond this first approximation. The landscape is no longer just as nature intended, it is now understood as a series of coexisting layers: natural, cultivate, urban, and architectonic; and all of those are the components of the existing territories, urban and rural. To hybridize is to combine anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds. According to our current view of nature and city as enemies, hybrid landscape must combine ecology and city. I define landscape architecture as the creation of magic; creation of the feeling of a rural, free and natural environment with the commodities of a highly dense place combining nature and urbanized areas. “Nature does not stop were city begins. The city itself is an ecosystem that generates new and modified cycles of water, minerals, and energy.” (Tjallingii, 2005) In the development of the ‘network city’ there are increasing functional interactions and relations between housing, employment opportunities, and culture and recreation according to the lecture by Paul Gerretsen, “New Holland”. These land use classifications can be understood as other types of layers, if the changes in needs of the Dutch are taken into account for future planning, they will define the functions and therefore the morphology of the landscape. This is a niche for redesign and re- conceptualization of development and construction. “The Netherlands is shifting to a “footloose economy”, which is employment in the tertiary sector; no longer depending on natural resources and raw materials”. (Rosemann, 2007) This type of economy gives flexibility about the place of work and makes it easier to transfer from one city to another. Big extensions of land for agriculture and factories are no longer needed and there is room for innovation of urban schemes. Even the most extreme designs and drastic changes are made possible because “the Dutch landscape is easy to intervene because of the unique ability of the Dutch to see and analyze the landscape as a human construction. All kinds of technical means are available; the Landscape scale is no longer relevant because any physical constraint can be overcome”. (Luiten, 2007)


Hybrid landscape integrates economy with socio-spatial equity, nature and construction, regularity and fantasy, relationships and oppositions, and casual unexpected elements that vary the scene. It provides an infrastructure flexible enough to allow the changes in tradition according to changes in needs.


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

The Ronde Venen is located between the cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, in the area acknowledged as the “Green Heart”. The Green Heart was first designated to prevent the individual cities from converging to a single urbanized area, it covers an area of about 1500 km2 in the middle of the conurbation of the Randstad: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. In this first approach, the spatial form of the Green Heart was not derived from landscape qualities, but from a negative urban form, but this is rapidly changing due to settlements gradually losing their rural character, a rural–urban continuum is developing. So what are the qualities of the Ronde Venen? Is it green open space, agricultural land, or is it in the process of becoming absorbed by the urban sprawl? How can people experience being there and understand the hybrid role it has in this spectrum?


Even though the Ronde Venen is not uniform continuity, it is unbroken continuity and this should remain to enhance the identity and history of the location. The different polder grammar talks about a history of land reclamation and soil characteristics that are very diverse throughout the site; however this helps us in the understanding of the values of the landscape.

"The existential question, 'Where do I belong?' is addressed to the imagination. To inhabit a place physically, but to remain unaware of what it means or how it feels, is a deprivation more profound than deafness at a concert or blindness in an art gallery. Humans in this condition belong no where." Eugene Victor Walter


Place perception is a result of continuity that allows the characteristics to be read at any interval throughout it. Place is associated with pause, pause give us views and a platform to make decisions. “Each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.� This idea brings three concepts into mind: movement, centers, and views. These elements attempt to unify the physical and spiritual elements of the place, as well as produce feelings of change, location, and continuity, which are how people orientate themselves, physically and psychologically.

The main purpose is to enhance the human-environment relationship, obtained by the materialization of flows at different scales and speeds, greenways and paths for pedestrians and bicyclists, waterways, and traffic networks connecting the centers: new commercial areas and forums for social and commercial activities, as well as historical elements such as old windmills, or the forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam. In order to start defining the identity of the Ronde Venen, there are three main scales to consider: MASTERPLAN INFRASTRUCTURE CENTERS


MASTERPLAN. WATER MANAGEMENT. The more water there is in the system, the most sustainable it becomes, because a balance is achieved between the precipitation and evaporation. Plus, there is no input of polluted water and the cost of pumping out the extra water.

The water cycle for this project has the imput of water only through precipitation. The stages in the cycle which have been redesigned are: the water ring, and the dispersed wetlands and water storage areas. They will be explained in the following pages.


WATER RING. Independent from the Boezem, an inner ring following the higher grounds that provides water to the urbanized areas by storing rainwater and ensuring the quality by a system of lineal wetlands in its banks.

WATER RING

SEASONAL FLUCTUATION AND WATER STORAGE


WETLANDS. They lie in the lower areas of the polder, a connection system ensures the water flows through them to get filtered and purified. DISPERSED WATER STORAGE. Small innundation areas that allow current infrastructure to continue working and farmers and residents to stay where they are currently. This is the lowest level, but clean water may be pumped to the water ring if necessary.

Benefits and Uses of the wetlands and dispersion scheme: • Water Storage • Water filtration • Wastewater treatment • Wildlife habitat • Ecotourism activities such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and photography • Study and research area • Reuse of existing infrastructure


EMERGENCY CONNECTION BOEZEM SYSTEM, PUMPS, WATER FLOW CONNECTIONS.

WETLAND AREAS

DISPERSED WATER STORAGE

TO AND


FINAL IMAGE


IDENTITY OF THE AREA. Create a common language that can engender feelings of location, continuity, and change. THEMATIC CONTINUITY: INFRASTRUCTURE. Rearrange the structure of the flows according to the scale of each one.

Current boezem system

New Water Ring

Restorative places can develop from a designed infrastructure that unites the relation: road- bike path – walking path- water.


IDENTITY OF THE AREA


INFRASTRUCTURE DIFFERENT SCALE FLOWS

TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM


CREATION OF HUBS Hubs are the result of the convergence of flows. They are located in specific locations where they are important for communication, transportation or because of the qualities of the land. The Hubs which are connecting the four flows, which would be the four HYBRID METRO – lines are the first areas of intervention. The hub FLOWING BELVEDERE is where the intervention and further architectonic detail takes place.


SCENIC PATHS


CENTERS •

OVERLAPS OF FLOWS AND FUNCTIONS

PAUSES IN THE MOVEMENT


RESTORATIVE PLACES

AMENITIES OF THE RONDE VENEN

Car parking Bike rental Playgrounds Park benches and picnic tables Forum Marina Bus stops Cafés Bars Shops Sports facilities yoga Sand bowling Skateboarding Special lighting system Petting zoo Kayak and canoo Research Center


THE POLDER EXPERIENCE

The landscape must offer stimulation by considering options, wondering and imagining, experiencing the mystery and the possibility of discovery. Views must be taken into account carefully to locate the familiar and being sure that exploration won’t result in coming lost. The presence of a strong visual landmarks help emphasize a sense of direction as well as providing orientation aids. Attention must shift away from where one is to somewhere else. Movement allows choices to be made when attention is attracted by the views. Walking is a process that requires the presence of objects or views that can act as temporary navigation aids and break down the route into shorter, interesting walks between centers. Centers must be places of change that create the feeling arrival, encouraging people to reflect on where they have been and where they might go next. The intervention made in this site must provide motivation for moving from here to there by giving a sense of anticipation, what we see and hear encourages a future possibility. The Ronde Venen cannot be regarded only as a collection of farmlands, urbanized areas, canals and dykes, but more as a shared identity which enables the elements within it to connect. It integrates experiential and spatial dimensions of different scales within a whole, unbroken continuity of places. These places can also become significant social places at which to meet, these places are pauses. Pause is not possible to perceive without being contrasted with movement. The elements that contain this movement are the water and traffic flows, essential in forming networks within the polder and act as communication links between the urban and the rural, between the dynamic and the quiet land use. Thus these flows will be key elements in the design task, focusing on a sustainable and efficient water system on one hand, and connectivity and mobility issues, on the other. The combination between these two networks will create the space for program to appear, creation of new centers. The sense of center grows out of the social gatherings and the most successful locations are where there is a wide mixture of uses. Mixed uses tend to generate choices and this attracts people because of the expectation that a variety of needs and desires can be met together. This space must be flexible enough to be able to host different uses like retail shops, vendors, markets, forum and event centers, recreation facilities, etc.


Designing this open space infrastructure generates opportunities for specific design and further development, while maintaining a common identity masterplan for public space. The result will be a new network of water and traffic flows that provide a high quality public space by interweaving different layers: urban, rural, commercial, recreational, natural, historical, human made, production, consumption, traffic ways, human scale, flows and pauses.

Better infrastructure and investments in green space and recreational areas will make the urbanized areas of the Ronde Venen more attractive to live in, thus increasing the value of the property. In the towns of Emmen, Appledoorn and Leiden in the Netherlands, it has been shown that garden bordering water can increase the price of a house by 11 per cent, while a view of water or having a lake nearby can boost the price by 10 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. A view of a park was shown to raise house prices by 8 per cent, and having a park nearby by 6 per cent (reference). The rising value of adjacent property in the urbanized areas of Mijdrecht and Wilnis would produce enough in taxes to pay for the maintenance of the water management and the park that develops in the overlapping areas of the flow networks. The Ronde Venen will be supported by people who can afford to live there, but free to access by all visitors, who also contribute to the economy of the area. The livability will attract leisure and tourism, so visitors and residents will benefit from commercial shops and public cultural events and communal activities, creating a balanced mix between local economy and tourist money injection. Public spaces are open to all, regardless of ethnic origin, age or gender, and as such they represent a democratic forum for citizens and society. These spaces shape the cultural identity of an area, they are not only places to understand and relate to nature, but it can also be place for social and cultural exchange, a catalyst for community development and economic enhancement.


One of the benefits of high-quality public space is its potential as a venue for social events, drawing the community together and bringing financial, social and environmental benefits. Some examples of such events might include holiday performances, New Year’s Eve festival, a seasonal Christmas market, fashion shows, weddings, concerts, farmer markets; physical activities such as children playing or people skating, walking or jogging, sports tournaments; cultural activities, such as art and community events. These events might function as another way of attracting income to the area, including sponsorships by big companies creating a synergic relation in which resources for the maintenance of the Ronde Venen are obtained in exchange for a promoting platform for these companies as a marketing vehicle.


3. CONCLUSIONS I have learned a lot from this hybrid landscape project. Having an architectural education background, the change of scale proved to be a great challenge. However, it was worth the work because it gave me a broader conscience of several elements that have been proven to be extremely important, like the management of water. I have discovered that the hybridization of giving different levels of meanings can bring concepts together into an integral design which can address layers of significance, aesthetics, experience, bioclimatic issues, and sustainability in general. One of the strongest jury comments I received was “how can this project have a real impact and attract people and commerce?” To answer this, let’s remember that landscape urbanism can be the catalyst for transformation because it addresses the larger urban territory that combines both private and public ownership; it is a broader scale of homogeneous intervention that keeps the unbroken continuity and identity of the site. Paola Viganò establishes that large landscape infrastructures form the basis for later urbanization, which is the proposal of this project. By designing and creating interesting and livable spaces throughout the flows, which are at the same time carriers of infrastructure, the settlements that will occur in the future have a predetermined concept, but all the facilities to coexist with nature and the conditions that a hybrid landscape offers. Prof. Han Meyer mentioned that Society + territory= urbanism, hence, collectivity and individual responsibility result in a civic society. Where are the Dutch heading as a culture? Values established include wealth and information redistributed throughout the urban network in the interest of social capital and knowledge efficiency, and competitiveness in a global market. City and nature must work together in synergy, creating dissolution of the distinction between city and countryside.


Hybrid Landscape