Historically, De Lensheuvel was a lens-and-lint-shaped cluster of buildings along the old trade route from Tilburg to Postel and Leuven. Initially, this cluster was an independent hamlet, at a considerable distance from the village of Reusel. The growth of Reusel in the 70’s and 80’s gradually incorporated the hamlet into its fabric, but De Lensheuvel’s contours are still clearly recognisable, due to its specific lens shape, its differing edges and its distinct architecture.
Recent decades has seen an increase in heavy traffic in De Lensheuvel, both from big lorries and agricultural vehicles. This has put pressure on living conditions in the area. Because roads were increasingly dimensioned to fit the needs of heavy traffic, they acquired a profile that no longer matches the modest size and scale of their surroundings. In ‘old’ De Lensheuvel, outdoor space had, aside from an infrastructural function, primarily a social one: it was a meeting place, where news was exchanged and children played. Increased traffic shifted the balance towards its infrastructural function, and its social function has consequently suffered.
The road became too wide, and manifested itself as the village’s cuckoo. Road dimensions also invited traffic to speed up, and traditional interventions to slow down traffic were unsuccessful. Indeed, they only put further pressure on the spatial quality of the area, without solving the original traffic problem.
The motto of the municipality of Reusel-De Mierden is ‘Work Together’. Its residents are therefore stimulated to join the search for durable solutions. This also was the case with the traffic issues in De Lensheuvel: its residents were invited to join the conversation and explore the area’s obstacles and opportunities.
To kickstart the conversation, BoschSlabbers presented a stimulating view of the area’s potential, based on analysis of its history. Already in the first meeting, this led to a joint conclusion that De Lensheuvel has recreational potential, as it is part of the main bike route to the countryside. With the development of a bicycle street two flies were hit in one blow. The bicycle street proved the perfect fit for both the desired restoration of the area’s size and scale – and with it a return to its small-town atmosphere – and the wish to solve the area’s traffic problems.
Point of departure is to keep change limited, and honour and reinforce older spatial elements. The strength of the design is in simplicity, purposefulness and durability. These elements are in tune with the way of thinking of the Kempen region.
De Lensheuvel is, as one of the oldest parts of Reusel, a place where living, working and relaxing in a green setting work well together. T
The Reusel Wader Bird Society took initiative to better connect De Lensheuvel with the countryside. For this, the plan was to upgrade the Hoevenheipad, that starts at De Lensheuvel, to a wheelchair-friendly path. Funds for its construction, however, were not 100% guaranteed, so a donation in kind was made, in the form of materials recovered from the construction works (such as granulate, street bricks and curb stones). Subsequently, our contractor made an additional contribution. It led not only to a fully funded wheelchair path, but also to an early opening, already in 2016. The path will be part of the recreational route called “Ommetje Reusel” (‘Reusel Stroll’).
Title: Deisgn plan Kempische dorpsruimte Lensheuvel - 't Heike
Location: Reusel, Noord-Brabant, NL
Size: 1,5 ha
Client: The Municipality of Reusel-De Mierden
Type: From vision to design plans and execution
Image credits: BoschSlabbers
Project code: HT 10-08, HT 15-09