City Centre, Deventer

Deventer straatkolk

Bureau B+B was invited to create an integral vision for the city centre for the Municipality of Deventer. The plan covered all aspects ranging from the urban design vision to an elaboration at the detail level. The vision’s task consisted of strengthening the competitive position of the former Hansa city in respect to living, work, culture, food services and tourism, while using the visual quality that is unique to Deventer. This meant not only brightening the city centre’s tired 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 central shopping artery. To strengthen the orientation and the characteristic urban structure, B+B unified the fragmented old church district in the middle of the city centre by giving it a large space with to highlight its unique character. This space, with its special pavement, lighting, street furniture, greenery and advertising policy, is the connecting factor.

The design starting point was strengthening the city centre’s four different identities: the medieval city, the nineteenth-century city, the Singel promenade and the IJsselkade quay. Each area 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 the highest priority to the quality of each individual building, underscoring this by means of the unique paving which was 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 – where 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 color 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 directly associated with the city.
The renovation had a positive effect: shopkeepers were motivated to improve the appearance of their shops and signs. The new concept was also a commercial success, starting entrepreneurs set up business in streets that had previously been less popular, resulting in a diverse range of shops and food services.

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