The driveways become a temporary public space in Harlem

Photo: A hundred-meter track mapped onto asphalt

The western entrance to Harlem has traditionally been an important entrance for automobile traffic into Harlem. The municipality of Haarlem wants to use the space that became available after the construction of an air bridge in the future for the construction of a canal. Since this will take a long time, a space will be created to convert the driveways that become available into a temporary green yard. A plan for a low-budget temporary design was drawn up in close cooperation with the local people.

By landscape architect Martijn Al and urban planner René Kuiken. This article appeared in more detail at Groen Magazine.

The municipality of Haarlem has been working on improving the western entrance to the city for a long time. In 2011, for example, the construction of an overpass diverted one of the main approach routes to Harlem. Thus car traffic is diverted into the city through the Waarderpolder business park and avoiding Amsterdamsevaart Street. In 2010, a team led by the municipality of Haarlem developed a vision for the Ostraadale region, examining opportunities arising from changes in traffic structure. Such as public space improvement potential, slow-traffic connections, and entertainment opportunities.

One of the most important opportunities recognized was the extension of the canal of the former battleship from Amsterdam, which was filled in the 1970s. However, realizing a channel takes a lot of effort and will take some time. In the meantime, the opportunity has arisen to improve the quality of accommodation through temporary interventions: by developing a temporary public space that provides a space for meetings and social interaction and thus contributes to communication within the adjacent residential area that contains few public spaces and green spaces.

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Asphalt maintenance

The challenge in this project was to achieve maximum spatial quality from a very limited implementation budget compared to the large surface area of ​​the plan area. Removing all asphalt from the road to be abolished requires the vast majority of the implementation budget. By largely maintaining the asphalt, the budget will be freed up for the temporary furnishing of a living green space.

Minimal interventions are sought to ensure that the former road acquires the appearance of a pedestrian zone. The goal was to give the public space the maximum spatial width. So there is no asphalt path between two green areas, but the asphalt and green are intertwined in one large public space. This is achieved by cutting chunks of asphalt and then planting it with flowering plants and ornamental herbs. The street will also be distinguished from the regular road by partially painted Kawasaki green with lines, sports and games.

In the past, Amsterdam Sivart has always had a continuous image. The canal and a row of trees support the entire street. In an interim setting, continuity is sought in this entrance to Harlem in a continuous fence, green paint on asphalt, asphalt greening, and finally, the area around the park can be planted with a mixture of native flowers.

Region of residence

Given the length of the park, a variation of the experience was sought, so that it would be interesting to walk the entire path. The ever-changing perennials and shrubs provide an exciting walking path. Additionally, the program varies. A number of seating elements for the railway girders will be placed along the square, in reference to the railway workshop on the other side.

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It is important to convert the site into a place to move from a public road to a residential area. Temporary furniture provides a great opportunity to make this happen. Now is the time to get this place in the memory of the Amsterdam Seaport residents as well as the entire memory of Haarlem. So an important part of public space design is the software, or how the space is used. The yard can accommodate many activities.

Resident Initiatives

The creation of the park was only possible thanks to the enthusiasm of the local residents involved. United in the county council, residents were able to set the policy behind them and encourage the realization of this temporary public space. Even after the redesign, residents will still be actively involved. The redesign is not a final image but a starting point. It provides the basis for significant resident energy, for new initiatives and uses. The district council continues to work in the yard by supporting the municipality in maintaining plants, organizing cleaning days, and monitoring their use. But certainly also through programming and continuing to develop this temporary public space in the coming years.

A district manager in the municipality supports initiatives and helps organize them. The goal is to improve the quality of life in both neighborhoods and the entire city. It will be exciting in the coming years to what extent and how the residents fit into this temporary public space. It is commendable that the municipality of Harlem has dared to do this experiment in public.

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