City Centre, Deventer

Deventer straatkolk

For the Municipality of Deventer, Bureau B+B created an integral vision for the city centre. The plan was all-encompassing: from an urban design vision of the city centre’s future to an elaboration at the detail level. The vision had the task of helping to strengthen the competitive position of the former Hansa city in respect to living, work, culture, food services and tourism, this through the creation of a striking visual quality that would be unique to Deventer. This meant not only brightening-up the city centre’s worn out shopping district, but clarifying its important structural elements as well. The city’s waterside location was, according to the firm, a key aspect. Connections between the city centre and the waterfront were restored, resulting in improved routing for the nuclear shopping apparatus. To strengthen orientation and the characteristic urban structure, B+B unified the fragmented old church district in the middle of the city centre, yielding a large space with its own unique character. The public space, with its special pavement, lighting, street furniture, greenery and advertising policy, constitutes the connecting factor.

The vision took as its starting point the strengthening of the city centre’s four different identities: the mediaeval city, the nineteenth-century city, the Singel promenade and the IJsselkade quay. Each ambiance has its own special concept. In the shopping district, the attractive historic façades form the basis for the public-space concept. A head-to-toe approach to the façades, taking full account of the street, determines the approach to the design of shop fronts, the placement of advertisement and signs, public/special lighting and displays.

B+B gives highest priority to the quality of each building individually, underscoring this by means of the paving, for centuries an essential element in the appearance of Deventer’s streets, but now almost entirely gone. The ‘made-to-measure’ paving that is added – each shopkeeper can choose from different types and shapes of natural stone – underscores the difference between the street and building levels, and even serves as extra display space.

The street design can be characterized as chic and reserved: a carpet of clinkers, set off with Corten steel strips for drainage. The clinkers used are a mix specially developed for Deventer, featuring subtle differences in colour and hardness, such that the modern, dimensionally consistent ones also seem authentic in this context. The city’s name is perforated in the drain covers in a traditional typeface, a reference to both the steel industry and the art of printing, both being directly associated with this city.

The facelift had effect: shopkeepers were motivated to improve the appearance of their shops and signs. The new concept was also a commercial success: beginning entrepreneurs set up business in streets that previously had been less popular, resulting in a greater choice of shops and food services.

  • Location: Deventer, Nederland
  • Constructed: 2003
  • Client: Municipality of Deventer