A landscape architect’s relationship with time is one of both love and hate. If all goes well, a design improves over the years. Plantings grow and mature. Materials age to reveal their beauty. People embrace locations as their own. Slowly, a designer’s vision waxes real.
Not seldom, however, the design slowly grows outdated. In those cases, changes in users’ preferences or the spatial constellation are too extensive for the original designs to accommodate.
Sometimes, however, a design continues to make you proud, even after more than thirty years. A design that makes you realise, with a broad smile, that you have done right, by society and by nature. The design BoschSlabbers made from 1989 onwards for the country estates of De Manteling and country estate Hoogduin is such a plan. It has thoroughly revitalised and updated the locations’ 17th century grandeur.
“De Manteling van Walcheren” is a typical zone of country estates, with wooded inner dune edges, the dunes themselves, beaches, stately lanes and winding paths. Here, well-to-do islanders of the 17th century created their country seats. Unfortunately, degradation took hold, as it did on so many other estates. The area deteriorated sharply. Lanes vanished, canals were filled up, hedges grew to tree tunnels and many of the original country houses and their grounds faded and disappeared.
In commission by Staatsbosbeheer, BoschSlabbers developed a comprehensive vision for the country estates in De Manteling. Main objective was the recovery of its old splendour, together with a necessary boost in recreational, ecological and cultural-historical value.
Initially, the removal of trees took centre stage. It allowed air and light to enter the grounds, and it restored old vistas. However, the extensive cutting of trees also sparked massive protest in the area. Luckily these sentiments changed when the revitalised look of De Manteling and the boost to its flora and wildlife became evident.
The outgrown beech hedgerows were also cut free. Nowadays, they wave like leafy tunnels, in sync with the dunes. Walking underneath them is like a fairy tale.
– Site manager Staatsbosbeheer. In: Staatsbosbeheer.nl/Natuurgebieden/Manteling
Especially in a historically rich environment as De Manteling, not just accurate spatial surveys of the area are required for planning, but also thorough historical research. Although most historical elements are lost, the survey of the terrain showed that almost all can still be located on site. Archival research often confirmed the conjectures of terrain surveys and added to the data.
This enabled a full cartographic reconstruction of the grounds in the 17th century. The cartographic images are persuasive reminders of the grandeur which De Manteling must have had in the 17th century.
In the centre of ‘De Manteling van Walcheren’, between the town of Oostkapelle and the seaside resort of Domburg, lies country estate Hoogduin. It consists of three former country seats: Hof Landlust, Hof Hooge Duijn and Hof Duijnvliet. Surveys of the grounds revealed the exact locations of almost all landscape elements: its lanes, its ponds and its Grand Canals.
Apart from these heritage values, the site’s ecology has also been restored. To reinforce the ecology, a new routing was designed, more limited and logical than the original. As a result, visitors can still visit the dunes, but ecological recovery is also made possible.
– Jan Willem Bosch, Landschapsarchitect BoschSlabbers
Duijnvliet is the largest of the three estates. Although its original country house is gone, historical research has uncovered enough clues for a reconstruction of the 18th century constellation. For example, the route of its former lanes was identified, as were its historical water structures. These were all incorporated into the recovery plans.
Main part of the plan was a full reconstruction of the grounds of Hof Duijnvliet. The reconstruction works started in 2004. Recently, the Grand Canal has been restored to its former lustre. The canal forms the main axis of the estate, between the island and the dunes. It re-establishes a visual line that creates depth between island and dunes and emphasises the estate’s grandeur.
The Grand Canal, together with the restored historical footpath (the Mantelingenpad), brings back interest and excitement to the estate, boosting its recreational value. The footpath crosses the Grand Canal over a small but high bridge, providing visitors with a beautiful view along the canal and main axis of the estate.
Over the course of the years, many subprojects have been realised. For example, the silted moats around Castle Westhove were redug. This has also restored the natural seepage system from the dunes. In addition, the 18th century landscape garden and its lane system have been reconstructed. Finally, confusing shortcuts were removed and replaced by logical routing.
Winding lanes of lime trees, a romantic pond, an island and a Roman bridge take the visitor back in time to an 18th century ‘Garden of Zeeland’. Near Terra Maris, the neighbouring museum for nature and landscape, thematic gardens were created. These showcase the rich and varied ecology of Zeeland. It features a dune landscape, a stretch of sea dike, a creek remnant and an orchard with fruit trees and sheep. Here, kids can fish for water bugs from the wooden decking.
Title: Country estates Manteling and Hoogduin
Location: Walcheren, Zeeland, NL
Size: 16 ha Hoogduin, 12 ha Manteling
Client: Several; Private
Duration: Duration from 1989, Implementation from 1995
Type: Vision, reconstruction, restoration, implementation plan
Image credits: BoschSlabbers
Project code: ZL 96-03