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Public space Spilstraat

Project type: Realisation
Commissioned by: Municipality of Alkmaar
Location: Spilstraat, Alkmaar (NL)
Date: 2007-2011

Spilstraat is a slightly worn down neighbourhood in the city of Alkmaar. Central element in this 3.5 ha housing scheme from the eighties scheme is a road, the Spilstreet. The street and the public spaces surrounding the approx. 200 houses were redesigned.

As a principle, the formerly oversized and unclearly dedicated public space is decreased in size. Giving out land for private gardens is maximized. In the South new and larger gardens of a higher standard are created at the waterfront, in the small alleys the ground floor houses got new front-gardens, creating small courtyard like spaces. Public space becomes more accessible and clear. Two new urban meeting places are designed and there is space for all generations: in the ‘round end’ of the street an inclined playground behind trees is projected and a barbecue terrace on the waterside. Halfway the street a playground for many generations (‘brede speelplek’) is situated next to a look-out tower and a petanque strip along the water for the elderly. In one of the existing courtyards a full-size basket and soccer field is situated.

The design maximises the parking in the courtyards, replacing the dull bushes. All inhabitants are now able to park their car close to their homes, but the appearance of the street is not dominated by automobiles. The formerly bendy and obscure driveway becomes straight. Lines on the pavement, furnishing and two roundabouts slow down the traffic in this 30 km zone.

The unifying element in Spilstreet is a repeatedly bending green ribbon. The ribbon’s design is inspired by plants and by motifs of Renaissance and baroque gardens. This ribbon however is not only to be looked at. The ribbon functions as separation of walkways and street. In addition, lighting, planting and collective trash bins are integrated in it. The ribbon protects playgrounds and there are informal seating facilities integrated for parents to watch. At the beginning of the street the green ribbon starts with a curl that appears to elegantly come down from the skies: a friendly welcome to inhabitants and visitors of Spilstreet. (The Dutch phrase ‘spil’ means capstan, spindle in English).