Article by Moreira Filho – Eden Soestdijk, by Mecanoo Architecten, in Baarn, Netherlands Working in landscape architecture requires a variety of knowledge within many multidisciplinary areas of construction. A sum of visual arts, design, architecture, engineering, historical and cultural heritage preservation, laws, botanic, illumination, hydraulic, topography, geology, and others will define whether a project will gather enough elements to win any competition. Wow, being a landscape architect it is not an easy task. A multidisciplinary team composed by Mecanoo Architecten, Kossmann.dejong and Royal HaskoningDHV developed a project for the Soestdijk Estate, transforming it into Eden Soestdijk, in Baarn, Netherlands, in a competition organized by the Dutch government. In fact, this project is an experimental garden whose main goal is to educate and raise awareness in society about the earth’s fragility and the importance of green spaces to the environment and to the people of a sustainable society.
So, let’s discover what made this project a success in the competition.
Step 1 – Casting Problems What are the environmental problems we have worldwide? Population has increased, cities are crowded and disordered. Water, food, climate and energy have become problems instead of solutions. From this point, how can landscape architecture help through its design? The group of designers thought about each of these problems and how to put these complex troubles into a limited area, tackling them with solutions proposals and awareness. The group of designers thought about each of these problems and how to put these complex troubles into a limited area, tackling them with solutions proposals and awareness.Step 2 – Inspirational Design One of the skills a landscape architect must have is to envision the future of the complex cities and sites they will provide interventions for. This vision will be translated into the design. This design must stimulate and inspire visitors, This vision will be translated into the design. This design must stimulate and inspire visitors, showing the real drama of our world and being positive enough to show the solutions, changing the visitor’s point of view. Totally artistic. Step 3 – Focus on the Main Objective Netherlands is a small country with a small land area. Each centimeter of area must be used consciously. The Eden Soestdijk project has international appeal for its economic, educative and cultural assets and aims to be significant enough to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is estimated that more than a half-million visitors will pass through Eden Soestdijk annually from 2020 onward, greatly improving the regional economy and tourism. Park managers will provide environmental education areas, promoting studies and research about sustainability and preservation, opening opportunities to interns and apprenticeships to start their curricular experience.
Step 4 – Preserve Historical Heritage and Bring About a New Design
“The Palace Soestdijk Estate is one of the most fairytale-like environments of the Netherlands: the ideal canvas for Eden Soestdijk. The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner.” Says Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo Architecten. Part of Netherlands history and even European history itself passed through or happened in the surroundings of this site. So, the modern design of the project needed to talk to the past without leaving contemporaneity entirely. The palace architecture and its interior saves a rich history of the estate and Royal Family. Some of its chambers will be used for cultural and business events; an ideal place to exchange knowledge and mature ideas. Some multimedia presentations will stimulate the visitors’ imaginations while they interact with the displays that showcase the importance of Nature from scientific, historical and cultural perspectives, always focusing on awareness about the environment and sustainability.Step 5 – Create Another Focal Point: Iconic Greenhouse Organic lines surround a curved architectural greenhouse like a bubble, within the forest right behind the palace. In this place, visitors will experience a kind of expedition through amazing landscapes of ecological balance and the social aspects of sustainability. A high-tech agricultural area will be installed to show the importance of sustainable food production like an agroforestry system, for example. The importance of the tropical rainforest will appear with its huge biodiversity. Even a subterranean world will be built to show how fungi and bacteria work and why they are important. An exclusive area will be dedicated to an icy arctic landscape to evidence the trouble of the climate’s rapid change.
Step 6 – Restoring the Gardens
Eden Soestdijk is within a big park surrounded by gardens and they make up part of this landscape. The gardens’ characteristics will be preserved and restored as they were in the glory times of the palace, maintaining the fairytale sensation of the backyards. The intention is to restore and also add some new educative elements through the landscape that allows an experience with Nature. Accessibility will mark this change, especially on sidewalks and paths encouraging public walking and cycling.
Inspire Your Ideas
Eden Soestdijk is inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall, Great Britain. Inspiration motivates creativity. And the multidisciplinary group of designers worked for a common goal: design a landscape that could deliver a message of global importance. As it happens in Great Britain, they expect a large number of visitors annually, so the infrastructure must be well done. This is a perfect example of how to reach success in projects and proposals. Through all the inspiration, they created a futuristic place, joining historical heritage with the landscape and surroundings, and being original in their purposes. Tell us; what project excites your mind and inspired some project that you have made?
Full Project Credits For Eden Soestdijk :
Project Name: Eden Soestdijk Status: Ongoing Project Design: 2014 – 2016 Location: Amsterdamsestraatweg 1, Baarn, Netherlands Design Team: Mecanoo Architecten, Stichting Eden Soestdijk, Royal HaskoningDHV, Kossmann.dejong, Eden Project, Bouwhistorisch Onderzoek en RestaurTatie F. Franken. Client: Rijksvastgoedbedrijf Recommended Reading:
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Natu