Where the windmills of Kinderdijk’s famous double mill row turn, where farm life is the economic engine, where the ribbon settlements are still clearly recognisable and sometimes time appears to have stood still. In the archetypically Dutch polder landscape of the Molenwaard, many such spatial qualities can be found. But how do we preserve these qualities for the future?
A changing society produces a continuous string of new questions and issues. This makes for a landscape in constant flux. The value of the Molenwaard landscape is in the relatively modest changes it has seen since the Second World War. In its recent history, no rapid spatial transformations have occurred. This does by no means mean that the landscape hasn’t changed at all. Rather, changes have been more gradual, but together, they have definitely had an impact on the landscape’s visual appearance. This impact is hard to control by local authorities: it is extremely difficult to influence seemingly small developments that in isolation are relatively meaningless.
The Molenwaard cook book collects recipes for ten major spatial developments currently under discussion in the municipality of Molenwaard. These recipes have been written in dialogue with residents and the municipality.
The recipe book’s visuals are accessible, to ensure broad appeal. Rather a good newspaper than a fancy novel. Rather a countryside cookbook on the kitchen counter than a delicately bound Ottolenghi on the parlour table.
The landscape of Molenwaard is a product of long historical processes, with every episode adding its own ingredient without spoiling the broth of the past. The result is a storied landscape, made up of an intriguingly complex constellation of elements and structures from different layers of time. Molenwaard is part of the larger Alblasserwaard region and contains different spatial elements typical for this region. These characteristic elements are its landscape’s basic ingredients, including marshes, creek ridges, peat streams, ribbons of farmyard settlements, secondary embankments, windmills, tithe roads, gateway trees, duck decoys, cattle copses and pollards.
The 10 recipes set guidelines for major interventions in the Molenwaard landscape. Each recipe consists of a short illustration of the intervention, and the spatial features and obstacles in play in anticipation of developments. Examples of major developments are: scaling-up, concentration of buildings, termination of farm businesses, integration of renewable energy and expansion of leisure routes, commercial zones and the village centre. To integrate developments carefully into the landscape, building blocks have been created, to implement in future planning and design. How to use these building blocks is shown in a model example.
In recent years, municipalities’ role in Dutch planning processes has changed. At present, the municipalities still set the course of developments and formulate end goals, but instead of pushing on with further development themselves, other parties are invited to realise those goals. In other words, authorities determine the parameters, and within those parameters they stimulate, inspire and create opportunities. The ‘no, unless…’ of old makes way for the ‘yes, under condition of …’. And these conditions are what it is all about in the spatial quality framework that is the recipe book.
– Dirk Heijkoop, alderman for the municipality of Molenwaard
Man has shaped the Molenwaard landscape over many centuries. Right until the present day, it has been the people who created the landscape. The municipality wants to preserve its spatial qualities recognised by its people, and solve spatial problems experienced as such by its people. This is why this recipe book is written in close cooperation with the residents of Molenwaard. In three evening meet-ups, we focused on the core qualities of Molenwaard, on relevant developments and on ways to optimally integrate these developments in the landscape.
Title: Molenwaard's cookbook
Location: Molenwaard, NL
Size: 20.000 ha
Client: Municipality of Molenwaard
Type: Spatial quality framework
Image credits: BoschSlabbers
Project code: HL 15-26