Katwijk was first settled on the banks of the Oude Rijn, where the river flows into the sea. Traditionally, Katwijk has three centres: Katwijk aan Zee, Katwijk aan de Rijn and Valkenburg aan de Rijn, which was an independent village until 2006. These three settlements have at least one thing in common: they are built on historical grounds. The high banks of the tidal creeks were already inhabited in the Bronze Age, in a salt marsh landscape. In Roman times, Katwijk was located on the Limes, the trade route along the northern border of the Roman Empire, with a fortification / castellum near today’s Valkenburg.
In the 1930s, Vliegkamp Valkenburg (Airfield Valkenburg) was developed between the dunes and the later A44 motorway. The construction of the motorway created a significant rift in the area’s spatial, ecological and hydrological relations. During the war, the German troops took over the airfield. In the area, they constructed the Atlantik Wall and the Barrack Woods. In the post-war period, the airfield was expanded and its monumental hangars were built.
Alongside the airfield, the Zijlhoek horticultural greenhouse area and the sand extractions around the Valkenburgse Meer (a small lake) developed. Currently, the provincial motorway N206 is being upgraded to become part of the Rijnland Route, which threatens to cut off the project area from the rest of Katwijk.
For a long time, Katwijk lacked room for expansion. This changed when the airfield on the other side of the N206, in the transition from dune to polder, was abandoned. This offered Katwijk the space to spread her wings.
On this special location, Katwijk aims to build 5,000 homes, realize working landscapes and develop a test location for unmanned vehicles and drones. This “Unmanned Valley” strengthens the competitive position of the region, in which the European Space Lab, Bio Science Park Leiden, Green Port, Naturalis and Leiden University are prominent players. In addition, a spatial vision is needed for the green spaces around the former airfield.
All in all, the task is not just the development of 5,000 homes, working landscapes and an Unmanned Valley. The real challenge here is to develop an amazing living and working environment to enfold this spatial program; an area where it is pleasant to live, work and stay, with added ecological resilience. An area in which connections that have been lost, due to the development of the airfield and the Rijnland Route, are restored. An area in which its layered history is still legible.
The development of Valkenburg Air Base offers the opportunity to add a ‘Katwijk aan de Plas’ (‘Katwijk at the Lake’) and a ‘Katwijk aan de Duinen’ (‘Katwijk at the Dunes’) to the other Katwijks. The primary focus, however, is to create a united Katwijk. The residents of Katwijk aan Zee and Valkenburg will experience the new residential area as a natural part of their Katwijk and their everyday living environment quickly, while also enjoying the qualities that the new residential area opens up: Valkenburgse Meer, Hollands Duin, hangars, the openness of the polder. Conversely, the facilities and qualities of Katwijk must be easily and safely accessible for residents of the newly developed areas.
Water is the carrier of the Masterplan; it is the most important public element in the design. Creeks formed in the former salt marsh landscape are re-exposed. In this way, scattered archaeological sites are spatially anchored, regain their original contexts and strengthen the location’s expressiveness. These creeks also collect and retain the clean and mineral-rich seepage water flowing from the dunes in the area.
The entire area is developed at polder bosom level. This is an expensive intervention in the short term, but leads to a coherent and robust water system that can be managed at lower costs in the long term. In addition, it makes the entire water system navigable for small boats, which adds enormous quality to the residential area.
At the Valkenburgse Meer, a residential area arises that is completely focused on water, from luxurious lofts at the edge of the lake to floating homes on the water.
Three attractive and distinctive outdoor areas frame the commuter landscape: Mient Cabbage Garden and its dunes, the open polder towards Wassenaar and the Valkenburgse Meer. The area itself is veined by lines of water and greenery. This forms the framework within which future living and working areas will be developed. The framework guarantees continued spatial unity in a diverse area, and allows the residential areas to be developed in phases, driven by the ebbs and flows of the market.
The open area between Katwijk and Wassenaar – the southern part of the Mient Cabbage Garden – leaves room for the development of a test location for unmanned vehicles. This also offers perspective for the preservation of the listed historical barracks.
Title: Vliegkamp Valkenburg Katwijk
Location: Katwijk, NL
Size: 900 ha
Client: Municipality of Katwijk
Cooperation: Strootman landschapsarchitecten (IRV)
Type: urban plan, integrated spatial exploration, area development
Image credits: BoschSlabbers
Project code: bs-S 17-11