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The cheese market with its 300.000 annual visitors immediately comes to one’s mind when thinking of Alkmaar. If you cut one of the big round cheeses on the market the pattern of the holes in the cheese represents an unexpected and interesting pattern. Of course, there is more cheese than holes, but the plane, undisturbed section is boring. It is the holes that make what you see special.

The public space in the Eilandenbuurt (‘neighborhood of islands’) of Alkmaar is like a cheese without holes: plane, homogeneous, large, maybe even too large, and very unexciting. There are no special points of interest, like the holes in the cheese.

This landscape design uses this principle of to add (more) special places to public space in the Eilandenbuurt. The holes are inversed into bubble like islands that emerge from the standard concrete tiles surface. The islands are inhabited by trees, playing grounds, a curved bench, bike racks, letter boxes, a ‘hang-plek’, climbing racks or small stables on the new square.

The second principle for the landscape design is the experience when you walk through the neighborhood. Today’s public space shows little difference between paving, parking spaces and places to walk or to have a sit. The new design creates zones that are inviting to the passer-by. A network of elevated plateaus is created. Squares and boardwalks that lift the baby-buggy pushing parents and all other pedestrians up out of the undefined outside space. This ‘catwalk’ is paved with wood and might be just the ideal jogging route through the neighborhood.

Inhabitants and other users experience their neighborhood form an elevated catwalk, from another perspective: their views is above the parked cars and are guided by the walkways tot special places in the area: a new square, a viewpoint on the waterside and a playing ground in a green circle next to the new housing schemes. The catwalk but also the squares are accessed via ramps and therefore appropriately reachable for disabled persons, wheelchairs and children’s buggies.

Project type: Design
Commissioned by: Woonwaard and Municipality of Alkmaar
Location: Arubastraat, Alkmaar (NL)
Date: 2006-2012