1989 - 1994
1989 - 1994
In 1990, Bureau B+B sent an Austrian internee to Hilversum to search for the city’s heart. That she would return without definitive results was to be expected. This old brinkdorp1 had always had an intricate structure, one that in the 1980s had become virtually unreadable through the removal of greenery, the construction of a shopping mall and a serious shortage of public space. Hilversum’s identity, one associated with greenery and spaciousness, did not square with the image of its city centre, whose personality had little in common with the allure of its tree-lined suburbs. Its most important shopping street, the Groest, was a bare, asphalted three-lane traffic artery, whose ability to attract the shopping public was, at best, limited.
The ambience of the residential areas outside the city centre served as a source of inspiration for the facelift: understatedly chic and characterized by a unity of materials, uniform street profiles and imposing tree-lined streets. Two shopping streets with an east-west orientation, a broad main street at right angles to these and four squares at the extremities formed the carriers of the restructuring. Through traffic was excluded from the centre, and bus routes were revised. The Groest was transformed from a race track into a tree-lined promenade. A lane with a double row of chestnut trees functions as a green isolation wall for the threadbare façades.
Around the trees are specially designed tree guards that double as bike mounts. All of the street furniture is positioned in a line with the planting, yielding large, unobstructed spaces. Brown-red German clinkers are laid in a specially designed double-windmill-wing pattern with a polished natural-stone cobblestone in the middle, inspired by pavements in Granada and Seville, visited by the firm on one of its excursions. Important squares were cleaned up and provided with triangular surfaces of Belgian bluestone, making the historic brink to be recognizable once again. With this robust and timeless concept, free of any modish veneer, the city centre once again became Hilversum-typical, as though no designer had ever been involved. The effect on the city was, and continues to be, substantial. Visitors appreciate the shopping district as congenial and cosy. By means of consistent materialization and detailing, the design continues, 20 years later, to be stable in value.