2012 - A liveless area in decline
Park Aldenhof Hoensbroek
Population in decline
Hoensbroek is one of the shrinking Dutch towns that suffer from a declining population due to demographic change. For these small towns this leads to vacancy, less social cohesion and a loss of public facilities and therefore a loss of public life. The demolition of vacant buildings made it possible to develop a new park: The Aldenhof Park. The intention was to transform the vacant space into a social and sustainable green neighborhood hub to revive the neighborhood and create more social cohesion. In this way the transformation from housing structures into a public space gives the neighborhood a positive boost. As a reflection to the “lifecycle-proof” houses which have been build up next to the open space, a park should be realized which includes all generation facilities and therefore attract all ages of neighborhood residents to create a strong sense of community. Therefore a new school and the community center, which are in the same building, were integrated into the park.
Skegs and terraces
The park design is based on the particular geology of the province of South Limburg. Vertical fissures in the earth surface, causing some areas to move up and other areas down, are characteristic for this landscape. This creates terraces or skegs. The existing height difference in the park is highlighted by artificial terraces that vary in height. In the interpretation of the areas geology on to the scale of the park the terraces create different spaces for various activities and at the same time prevent the polluted ground from interventions that could destabilize the polluted soil which was discovered during soil analysis after the demolition of the housing structures.
The road that used to run in front of the building is now closed off and therefore let the schoolyard flow into the park. The park is constructed with as many recycled materials as possible and therefore guarantee a high level of sustainability. The paving stones come from a nearby street. The school fences are made from balcony banisters from demolished apartment buildings. Rainwater can easily infiltrate and excess water ends up in a pond in the lowest part of the park creating an ecological water-buffer. Wildflowers are planted to create a natural livelyhood for the bee-colony.
A park for residents by residents
The transformation from a residential area to a public park is a gradual process. During the planning process of the project locals were invited to participate within multiple workshops so that ideas and wishes of the future users were integrated in the design. Many elements were constructed together with hands-on participants. A bee-hotel was built, which now serves for practical teaching lessons and school children were involved into the tree-planting process.
The several design workshops and activities create engagement in order to reconnect the neighborhood. In this way not only the park itself but the whole process of participation within the transformation countered the anonymity in the area. All these activities contribute to social coherence and sustainability. To keep this positive social development and let the park serve as a social bridge within the future as well, the residents are partly responsible for the maintenance of the park. With these many forms of engagement the new park became a place for residents by residents.
Photography: Frank Hanswijk
- Location: Aldenhofstraat, Hoensbroek, Netherlands
- under construction: 2011-2016
- Client: Municipality Heerlen
- Cost: 3.500.000,-
- Area: 6,5 ha
- Partners: Buitenom ontwerp openbare ruimte
2017 - A green neighborhood centre, stregthening social coherence
Hoensbroek before the transformation
Hoensbroek after the transformation
The park design is based on the particular geology of the province of South Limburg.
The inspired design creates skegs and terraces
New terraces dealing with polluted ground structures
Terraces create different spaces
Together with the design based on the natural geology of the area the park consists of terraces and skegs
Planning through participation
In order to create a new neighborhood hub residents were closely involved in the planning process
Demolishment of buildings as start of the transformation
Initiating community activities by involving all generations
Self-made wind vanes by residents during communal design workshops
All generations park
All generations park
A bee-hotel was built and schoolchildren planted trees.
Integrated new school
School, day care and community centre all in one new building integrated in the park