Green hart for our Bos en Lommer Complex
On July 7, the festive opening of the newly designed courtyard of the Nieuw Landlust housing complex in Bos en Lommer took place. With a detailed explanation by landscape architect Ed Joosting Bunk of LANDLAB and a short speech by AHAM director Tim van Schijndel, the recreated courtyard of the Nieuw Landlust housing complex in Bos en Lommer was opened on a sunny Friday afternoon in July. Residents and other interested parties could get to know this green oasis with a glass in hand.
Prior to the opening, Bob van den Burg wrote this article about the creation of the renovated courtyard.
Ever since it was constructed, the block on Bos en Lommerweg has been owned by AHAM Vastgoed parent’s company J.H.F. Schopman en Zonen. During the Covid-19 pandemic, a plan emerged to make the green oasis in the courtyard garden accessible to residents.
The block on Bos en Lommerweg was built during the time of the Amsterdam School style of architecture, and consists of classical residential units with covered stairwell entrances. The building hosts 295 apartments. Part of the ground floor is taken up by retail units and other commercial spaces, the rest is residences. Some residential units have gardens, most have balconies. There is a huge,
4000 m2 / 43.000 square foot garden between the buildings. It is completely unkempt and has tall trees and shrubs. It’s paradise for hedgehogs, bees, birds and other flora and fauna, but the garden has one major drawback: it is inaccessible for the residents. So it’s more like a garden just to look at. During the Covid period, when everyone was trapped between their own four walls, people felt this lack of accessibility as a great loss.
It quickly became clear that the residents wanted a landscaped garden.
‘Even before Covid, our sustainability team was thinking about what we could do withthe garden,’ explains Tim van Schijndel, managing director of AHAM. ‘We were also considering roof gardens, and then the pandemic hit. Initially, most people were afraid to go outside. You weren’t allowed out after ten in the evening anyway. What a luxury it would be if you could simply go for a walk in your own courtyard garden, without any law enforcers to stop you. That’s when we came up with a plan for an accessible courtyard garden.
We approached De Gezonde Stad (The Healthy City), a foundation committed to creating a greener Amsterdam. We had previously had good experiences working with them on a greening project. First of all, De Groene Stad organised a meeting of residents. After all, it was ultimately going to be their garden. We had presented a list of general requirementsand we wanted to flesh this out together with the residents.
Personally, I was thinking of garden plots for growing vegetables and that people would want to exercise in their gardens, maybe they would like to have some fitness equipment. The latter was not greeted with much enthusiasm. The residents wanted to maintain peace andquiet, and didn’t want, say, a busy playground. They did want a place to meet each other, a vegetable garden and footpaths. We listened carefully to them. De Gezonde Stad played a key role in this process. Of course, it was a nice question for the residents: “Tell us what you want to do with this green area.” By the way, if no one had wanted anything to change, we wouldn’t have done anything.’
For De Gezonde Stad, greening is a major component of keeping the city sustainable, climate-proof and liveable. The foundation’s objective is that by 2025 the city will have twice as much green as it had in 2015. This can be accomplished in all sorts of ways: on roofs and frontages, on paved squares, in forgotten parts of the city and on neglected vacant lots. On behalf of De Gezonde Stad, Aukje Ypma was responsible for developing the courtyard garden in Bos en Lommer: ‘Our role in the project was primarily to involve the residents and to ensure that it would become their garden. During the meetings, which were online because of Covid, it quickly became clear that the residents wanted a landscaped garden rather than an ornamental garden. They wanted the view to remain as it was, but they wanted more usage value from the garden. They wanted a meeting place and allotments for gardening, and most of all no noise or commotion. These were the guiding principles. Ultimately we engaged LANDLAB landscape architects to create a design for the garden.’
‘In the summer of 2021 we were asked to create a design for this courtyard garden,’ says Ed Joosting Bunk, managing director of LANDLAB, who designed the garden together with Kim Kogelman. ‘AHAM had already explored the courtyard garden at the Merkelbach block elsewhere in town, and that certainly gave them some ideas. Together with De Gezonde Stad, we immediately decided to involve the residents in the design process. So the assignment became: create a design which takes into account the 300 people who live there and who will be using the garden. Involve residents in the plans. Create a garden design which will enable De Gezonde Stad to support residents who want to do something green. Create a garden that doesn’t require too much maintenance and use sustainable materials. Initially, we presented three proposals to De Gezonde Stad and AHAM, after which we approached the residents with our first sketches.’ ‘Meanwhile, we started thinking about organising a workshop for the residents, to help them work out the details of the garden,’ adds De Gezonde Stad’s Ypma. ‘Because the residents wanted a landscaped garden,’ says Joosting Bunk, ‘we kept as many trees as we could. Some of the trees here are 60, 70 years old. We only applied for felling licences for trees that would otherwise have fallen down soon anyway.’
They wanted a place to meet each other, a vegetable garden and footpaths.’
Vegetable garden boxes
The trees are important in the design,’ according to Kogelman. The garden was a jungle when we first set foot in it. You literally needed a machete. But it had a distinct atmosphere from the get-go. We wanted to retain its rough character, but that’s impossible if you also want the garden to be more accessible. That’s why, in the design, we created new areas in the wooded section where you can spend leisurely time and go for a peaceful, short walk. Over on the other side of the garden, where there’s more space, you can meet others and do some gardening. So there’s more activity on that side, and there’s a central section where people can sit and chat on circular benches.
This part of the courtyard is fine for that, because that’s where the residents’ gardens are too. Residents with gardens also liked what was happening, because until then the courtyard had been completely inaccessible. Now there will be a place that people will use, with gardening containers and a shed for tools.’ Aukje Ypma of De Gezonde Stad is in charge of the vegetable garden, and she assists residents when they need help. ‘Along the residents’ gardens, we will plant leafy, mixed hedges which offer privacy and produce the odd berry for colour and for the birds,’ Kogelman continues. You can walk from there to the other side along meandering footpaths to the narrow section that is more landscaped. We’re planting additional trees: a new tree for every old tree we chop down. The garden is and remains an oasis for animals and plants, for hedgehogs and bees. Moreover, we’re upping biodiversity even more by planting undergrowth in the garden, including herbs like wild garlic and semi-wild plants which can spread by themselves.’ If the implementation goes according to plan, the garden will be ready by spring 2023. It will be a courtyard garden that not only complies with sustainability requirements, but also brings all the residents together and gives them a sense of community. They have been involved in the project from its inception, and it is absolutely going to be their garden.