In redeveloping the Kempkensberg, the municipality of Groningen called for the creation of a city garden surrounded by ecological wood fringes. These woodlands had to be designed to protect and, if possible, foster the migration of animals and plants.
Given the modest size of the site, both the garden and the woods were designed in the same formal language, which follows the parcel pattern of a randomly chosen patch of Dutch landscape. This naturally evolved pattern makes a walk through the garden and the wood a natural, unpredictable experience.
At the same time, the parcel pattern makes it possible to use the different plots in a flexible way. As a result, the gardens and their different landscapes change constantly while the structure remains the same.
The layout also allows for a main route for walkers and cyclists to emerge in a more or less natural way.
The city garden, in fact, comprises three interwoven gardens. The centrally-located Merry Garden is fully exposed to the sun and has a wealth of variegated flowers, which have been selected to ensure that the garden blooms year-round. The garden has, moreover, been composed to always bloom in its entirety, turning it into a landscape through which people can stroll at leisure and enjoy the profusion of flowers in all their detail. To give the garden some depth, to screen it from the wind and enhance the landscape’s spatial texture, a number of magnolias have been planted at irregular intervals.
The Silver Garden has a different combination of perennials and bulbs, but, it too, offers a rich visual experience and, above all, a different spatial experience. Whereas the Merry Garden is variegated, the Silver Garden is subdued, with a prevalence of white, blue and dark-purple hues. This, combined with different kinds of grasses, gives the garden a graceful, wispy look.
The ponds, finally, are serene and quiet. Their reflective surfaces catch the light and give the garden a somewhat urban yet contemplative atmosphere.
This ambience is intensified by lawns to the west and east of the city garden. The lawns give the garden greater visibility beyond its perimeter, accentuating its character as a park and encouraging people to go in.
The wide and narrow paths crisscrossing this colourful pattern of fields with grass, plants, flowers and water have been paved with silver-green Norwegian flagstones. This unobtrusive yet stylish material gives the entire garden a distinguished look. This natural paving lies some eight centimetres above the level of the plant beds, reminding visitors that they are there as guests of nature.
BAM en Facilicom Bedrijfsdiensten
In collaboration with
Claus en Kaan Architecten
Francien van Kempen