Langhuset + Langbryggen Flotingsmuseum

Fedsund, Norway

Situated 30 minutes from Oslo, on Northern Europe's largest inland delta, on the banks of the Glomma, Langhuset will be Norway's foremost destination for cultural and natural heritage. With the aim of raising awareness of how valuable wetlands are, both as a habitat for plants and animals and as an important natural resource for humans.


The Longhouse

The Longhouse ties culture and nature together in a simple and clear gesture. An accurately placed geometrical volume, which in its simplicity contrasts with the heterogeneous and natural surroundings. It presents itself, modest yet powerful, referencing the impressive scale of the “Windvangen”. Similarly, to these cultural heritage artefacts, the Longhouse marks the water edge and claims its position in the Glomma delta.

The closer the beholder, the more the building reveals its quality, depth and craftsmanship. The structure is clearly articulated by the iconic “gateway”: a clear framing gesture marking the entrance and main public route through the building and gateway to the delta. The Longhouse acts therefore as a curtain to the landscape, focusing attention trough the framed view and isolating the unique qualities of the landscape in order to highlight them even more and stimulate curiosity.



Windvangen © Sparby, KaareAnno Norsk skogmuseum


The Longboard

Possibly the most important gesture of our proposal is not in the museum itself. It’s the public route that sections it and stretches all the way to the water: The Longboard. This extensive public gesture is more than just a pontoon into the water: It is a 200m hybrid between public plaza, boardwalk, bridge and cultural space. It extends far into the water as a reference to the extensive log driving structures along the Glomma, providing a comfortable walking route from the water and parking into the museum. The various height differences provide numerous opportunities for unique qualities and space.



Weaving of program

The programmatic strategy for the longhouse is meant to stimulate maximum interaction within a robust, functional and flexible concept. With carefully choreographed routes, the different user groups are guided in a 3D helix-like movement. Unraveling the museum narrative while offering glimpses in adjacent functions such as workshops, labs and learning center. The integration of the various volumes in one building is a symbol of the coexistence and synergy of knowledge and culture and breaks down the social boundaries and barriers. The Longhouse becomes a center of attraction that enhances the villages cultural identity.

Conceptual layout of internal logs, Schematic program layout, Flows and spaces


Naturally sustainable

The entire construction system is timber-based, with various treatments. The skin of the building is composed of vertical charred timber lamellas. Their shape and rhythm refer to the logging process and provides the museum volume with a gradual change in appearance and tactile quality from close-by. Within this unitary skin, windows, loggias and various other elements are integrated into the overall volume providing unity. This regulates the climate of the building offering the possibility to close or open various sliding “curtains” in the façade, and through their rhythm can regulate the amount of sun exposure.


Plan - Level 0

Above: Plan - Level 1. Below: Plan - Level 2


Project data
Location ​Fedsund, Norway Google Maps
Assignment ​Architectural Design
Size ​7.000m2
Design ​2020
Construction ​2023-2025
Status ​Ongoing
Client ​MiA – Museums in Akershus
Team ​Darius Reznek Bart Brands Natalia Gruszczynska Michala Lietavova Oana Paraschiv Sander Vedder
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Harkness Memorial Park

Melbourne, Australia

On the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, the Greater Metropolitan Cemetery Trust wants to develop a completely new 128ha cemetery park. The growth of the city, both in numbers and in diversity, demands a high density and multicultural memorial park. Karres en Brands was asked to compete in this challenging international design competition. 

Harkness Memorial Park reimagines the Australian public cemetery as a socially activated nature park cemetery. It weaves together the primary cemetery program with a range of spaces available for public uses within a rich resource-neutral native landscape.

The plan is based on 5 spatial strategies. First of all, Arnolds’ Creek is regenerated, not only as a crucial part of the sustainable watersystem of the neighborhood, but also to provide much needed public green space for the people living arund the cemetery. Second, ring parks are introduced throughout the cemetery that can both be used by visitors of the cemetery as peacefull stops to remember loved ones, but also attract life into the burial grounds, for example by introducing (landscape) art or public functions. Third, the middle spine of the park is developed first. Here all the infrastructure, functions en first burial fields will be located. Fourth, a grid of burial fields grows over time, linking to the spine for support. Each field has different qualities and provides a lot of freedom to choose a final resting place that fits with peoples’ personal or cultural preferences. Grids of trees are planted ahead of time, to make sure that when the next field is needed there will already be shade and an intimate atmosphere during ceremonies. Last, thoughout the whole memorial park a network of public paths grows as the cemetery grows, connecting the cemetery to nature and the new neighborhoods, and connecting the dead to the living.


Zooming in, the design focuses on making comfortable spaces for people in this barren and rough Australian landscape. By breaking up the massive scale of the cemetery, the design creates intimate, personal spaces that can be used in multiple ways during burial ceremonies or as part of the public green structure of the neighborhoods. A toolbox is created with interventions that support the formation of these intimate spaces. Either by architectural or landscape interventions, the climate conditions are changed on micro-level, making Harkness Memorial a comfortable place to visit in all seasons. 

Project data
Location ​Melbourne, Australia Google Maps
Assignment ​Sketch design
Size ​128ha
Design ​2021
Status ​Competition
Client ​The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
In collaboration with ​Aecom, Conversation Caravan
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Osnabrück, Germany

Opening up a former freight yard

Team Blauraum, Karres en Brands and Green Box have won first prize in the competition for the development of a 22ha former freight yard area, Lokviertel, in Osnabrück, Germany. Our proposal The Green Loop transforms the disconnected area into a new sustainable neighborhood of the future, connecting it on multiple levels with the rest of the city. 

The plan
Lok-Viertel’s vicinity to Osnabrück’s Central Station makes it potentially one of the most important gateways to the city. Due to its past use, the transformation area has traditionally been an isolated area. Numerous visible and invisible boundaries, from train tracks, roads, water bodies, and earth layers made the area appear as a foreign area within the urban fabric. Our priority was to break down these boundaries and integrate the area into the urban fabric while preserving the identity of the site.

Green connections and intersections
Zooming out on a wider reach, far beyond the planning area, the green ecological framework of Osnabrück is strongly visible. Like green fingers, they extend almost into the area and end in the Hasepark. Together with the Hase river, they form the basis of the green loop, extending the biotope and local recreation area into the heart of the site. The river functions not only as of the main connecting element of the two worlds: the historic city center of Osnabrück and the new LokViertel district, but as well as a scenic route through Osnabrück, crossing numerous sights. The new Heritage loop expands this route, leading to other exciting highlights hidden within the LokViertel area. 

History as a treasure chest
The architectural heritage of the Lok-Viertel, the so-called hidden gems, act as anchor points for the new quarter’s identity and serve as key elements within our proposal. Combined with newly built structures, the story and history of the place unfold. The period of industrialization and the extensive use of the area is used as a starting point as part of a new narrative in dealing with resources and nature. The old freight station, currently weathered and taken over by nature, is transformed into the green heart of the new district - the central park. Part of the station's platforms and warehouses are being preserved and will be reused for the central market, an event hall and a greenhouse, to stimulate local urban food production. 

The 15-min neighborhood
The design reversed the challenges of a disconnected island, within a network of roads and train tracks, and created the foundation of a 15-minute city concept. Within 15 min, everyone should be able to reach everything they need for life from their apartment on foot or by bike – from the workplace, through shopping, to culture. This is achieved through two main elements – the mobility loop and the green loop. Two mobility nodes placed at the beginning of the mobility loop provide parking space for all motorized traffic, keeping the inner part of the quarter car-free. From this point, the Ring Boulevard acts as the main link, providing space for zero-emission and autonomous vehicles. On the other hand, the Green Loop bundles the pedestrian and bicycle paths and connects them to further surroundings.

Urbanity mixed with sustainability
The basis of our robust framework is defined by the linear character of the distant views framed by train tracks. This simple but clear grid provides flexibility for the unknown future and leaves room for innovative programs and typological diversity. The new Lok-Viertel neighborhood will show resourcefulness at every turn. From e-mobility, through solar panels, to rainwater retention. Ultimately, this abandoned site will become a vibrant and diverse new neighborhood where innovation and sustainability are promoted in all aspects.

Project data
Location ​Osnabrück, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​Urban plan
Size ​20 ha
Status ​1st prize competition
Client ​Lok-Viertel-OS GmbH
In collaboration with ​Blauraum, Green Box
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Karres en Brands Studio Office


Since 2018, Karres en Brands has been located in a former factory at Werf 35 in Hilversum. For over a century, the hall has been used for every conceivable purpose: it’s been a plaster factory, salt store, and even a bus depot. Our layout is designed to make the most of this space’s high-quality attributes, such as the high shed roof, large windows, and garage doors.

The main guiding principle for us was to create an inspiring environment – a studio designed for collective processes. Karres en Brands’ office has therefore become an innovative, personal, and inviting place where we as colleagues and our visitors feel connected and at home. It’s a laboratory and a hive of activity dedicated to research and development. Robust, light, and beautiful, this place is where we create new ideas together and accommodate different processes alongside events, based on constantly changing needs in terms of intensity and the pace of daily work.

Meeting rooms, kitchen, and archive are combined into one compact cubic content. The way we positioned the content in the hall ensures that it’s surrounded by multi-purpose spaces of various sizes and orientations. The use defines the space, so we can always find the place that’s best-suited to requirements or the time of day: whether we need somewhere with the character of studio, attic, living room, workshop, auditorium, or exhibition space.

Project data
Location ​Hilversum Google Maps
Assignment ​Office design, renovation and interior design
Design ​2017-2018
Construction ​2018
Status ​realised
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Park Feanwâlden

Feanwâlden, The Netherlands

Transferium - a heart of the park

Until recently, Feanwâlden had a busy road running through the village. With the construction of the central axis (between Damwoude and Garyp), traffic no longer runs through the village and the new space created between the station and the village requires a new interpretation of high spatial quality. The diversion of the ring road presents an opportunity to upgrade Feanwâlden station into a transport hub. The design assignment is aimed at realizing a coherent area that matches the local identity

The redevelopment of the station area and the Rûnwei (ring road) is a great opportunity to strengthen the identity of the village. The atmosphere and character of the park should therefore meet the identity of the village. We see this identity as "wolkom" (welcome in Frysian), friendly but also elegant. The historic center with the late medieval brick towers (Schierstins) and the village street with its green character and large trees, the elegant country houses and the lower fields along the Rûnwei define the area. The new park is the first thing you encounter when you enter the village. It should enhance Feanwâlden's elegant village atmosphere. No large-scale urban architecture and street profiles, but a subtle reinforcement of the friendly and soft character. The park may be contemporary, but it reflects the village character.

The plan is inspired by the recognizable park designs of Vlaskamp. We have interpreted the spatial and functional principles of Vlaskamp and translated them into a contemporary park. The strength of a design by Vlaskamp lies in the subtle and at the same time powerful design approach. Elements such as height levels, water, sightlines, but also special objects and plants form the basis for the new park design. The height difference is a playful way to create spatial separation and accentuate sightlines. Water is central to the park and bridges or steppingstones mark special places in the park.

The design for the park is based on strengthening the two characteristics of Feanwâlden: the location of the village on the higher grounds with its large trees and Stinsenflora (spring bulbs), and the adjacent wetland meadows with alders and willows. This is reflected in the design for the park. The higher parts border the village and with large open spaces with groups of trees. The lower part is located along the railway zone and consists of a pond and wadis that collect rainwater from the area and drain it if necessary. The wadis are also a place for children to play and experience nature.

The construction of the Feanwâlden Transferium park started in 2020. The transport hub with its bus station, parking lots and main structures have now been constructed. The park will be realized in 2021.



Project data
Location ​Feanwâlden, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Park design
Size ​10 ha
Design ​2016 – 2018
Construction ​2020-2021
Status ​Deels gerealiseerd
Client ​Gemeente Dantumadiel, Provincie Fryslan
Team ​Sylvia Karres, Darius Reznek, Jonas Papenborg, Ania Sobiech, Justyna Chmielewska
In collaboration with ​Witteveen en Bos
Copyright images ​Trekkerfotografie
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Friedhof Ohlsdorf – Southern Reference Area

Hamburg, DE

From a necropolis to a vivid citypark

Hamburg’s Ohlsdorf Cemetery is the largest cemetery park in the world with an area of 389 hectares (larger than New York City’s Central Park). This special place has an international allure and is known for its combination of beautiful scenic surroundings, many striking chapels and historic tombs. The original western part of the cemetery, where the main entrance is located, was designed by architect Johann Wilhelm Cordes as a landscape park and opened in 1877. The eastern extension has a basic geometric structure and was designed in the 1920s by Otto Linné.

The cemetery faces a major transformation challenge. We live in a time when funeral culture is changing rapidly and the need for traditional funerals is declining. Ohlsdorf cemetery will need 100 hectares less in the next 20 years. As part of these developments, the city of Hamburg has drawn up a masterplan for the future: “Ohlsdorf 2050”. A clear distinction is made between the intensively used cemetery and the extensive park areas. Within this masterplan, Karres en Brands is working on a 16.5-hectare site on the south side of the cemetery. This site makeover is a pilot project on the Ohlsdorf cemetery, to transform it partly into a public park. The proposal, “from necropolis to vibrant city”, provides a framework for future developments and provides an intellectual interpretation of the history of the cemetery.


The strategy for the partial operation, which can later be implemented in larger parts of the cemetery, is both simple and complex: the existing orthogonal and monumental tree avenues form the framework for future developments, which are then supplemented and reinforced by a new spatial structure. New open zones in the dense bush layer that developed unintentionally over the years, make the rich history of the cemetery visible again and create new and unexpected relationships with the surrounding city. The result of this are open spaces where the atmosphere is determined by the presence of old structures and relics, which at the same time offer space for new ways of collective use.

This plan is not a fixed design, but an open strategy for the transformation of a cemetery to a new typology: a cemetery park.

It is a long term, low-budget approach which will emerge hidden treasures of the cemetery while adding new layers over a period of several years. This way of thinking and dealing with space is a method of reinterpreting history, transforming the existing cemetery and thus creating space for new functions.

We proposed to transform the enclosed cemetery into an open cemetery park by carefully chosen but robust interventions such as restoring old sight lines, adding new plants, opening up existing green structures and restoring new entrances. Many of these interventions start with a different view of management. With the delicacy of a gardener, we observe and start with small intervention to enable the special features of the past and present of the cemetery to slowly emerge.

The future vision is a layered strategy consisting of 8 steps. From the creation of the above new spatial structure to the introduction of collective initiatives and shared use.

This way there will be a future for the cemetery as a new lively park.


Before and after

Before and after

Before and after

Project data
Location ​Hamburg, DE Google Maps
Assignment ​Future vison approach for cemetery, Strategic redevelopment plan, VO, DO, TO, tender documents, implementation guidance
Size ​16,5 ha vision (competition area), 8.800 m² realisation area 1 4.600 m² realisation area 2
Design ​2017 – 2019
Construction ​2019 realisation area 1 2019 – 2020 realisation area 2
Client ​Hamburger Friedhöfe –AöR-
Budget ​€ 180.000 netto (realisation area 1) € 265.000 netto (realisation area 2)
Team ​Bart Brands, David Kloet, Niek Smal, Marlena Rether and Inga Zielonka
In collaboration with ​Kai Metzger (local construction management)
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Cumulus Park

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the heart of Amsterdam Zuidoost, on the doorstep of Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena train station, the innovation district is being developed across various interconnected buildings. The first buildings will open their doors in January 2020: development of the area will continue until 2024. The district will offer an inspiring mix of meeting spaces, event and workspaces, sport facilities, labs, lecture halls, research facilities and green spaces. 

Karres en Brands is responsible for the overall masterplan and spatial vision of Cumulus Park, in collaboration with Buck Consultants (organizational strategy), and Studio for New Realities (programmatic vision).  At the same time, we are involved in several of the individual projects within the Innovation District, such as the design of the public space of the first building (designed by BNTHMCRWL) as well as the redesign of the Bijlmerdreef into a sustainable boulevard of the future. 

Changing the way we innovate
Cumulus Park brings people and organizations together in a unique community where different disciplines, sectors and backgrounds work on issues of today and tomorrow. Starting with the domains of Digital Identity and Urbanization. To jointly come to new solutions that work for everyone: collaborative innovation creating impact. It will be the place where you meet others who, just like you, want to tackle important challenges. Where you start new projects, share risks and resources and develop new solutions that you could never have achieved on your own. Innovating together, creating impact is the basis of Cumulus Park.

Innovation centered around public space
The spatial vision put forth by Karres en Brands is based around a simple and clear concept: collaboration centered around public space. New buildings revolve around spaces for interaction, debate and cross-fertilization. In existing buildings, public space is used as an activation strategy opening previously closed spaces to the public and activating the area 24/7. And finally, city spaces bring everything together in a robust and flexible network of green and activity spaces that allow for work, sport and recreation. It emphasizes once again the importance of public space in the transformation process of Amsterdam Southeast into Amsterdam’s second center: a vibrant, lively, colorful center that offers a mix of sport facilities, workplaces, shops, amenities and nightlife. Karres en Brands were also responsible for the design of the Arenaboulevard, shopping center Amsterdamse Poort, Ziggo dome square and the Hoekenrode Square. The starting point is as always, a public space that invites one to stay, with a design that stimulates a cross-fertilization of talent, ideas, meetings and insight.


Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​masterplan, spatial vision
Size ​100.000 m² GFA, 20HA
Design ​2018 – 2019
Construction ​2019 – 2024
Status ​Project in progress
Client ​Municipality Amsterdam
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Natalia Gruszczynska, Marit Noest, Sander Vedder, Alma Kropin, Ida Pedersen
In collaboration with ​Municipality Amsterdam, ING, ROC Amsterdam, HvA Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Buck Consultants, Studio For New Realties
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Friedhof Ohlsdorf - Entrance Area

Hamburg’s Ohlsdorf Cemetery is the largest cemetery park in the world with an area of nearly 400 hectares (larger than New York City’s Central Park). This special place has an international allure and is known for its combination of beautiful scenic surroundings, many striking chapels and historic tombs. The original western part of the cemetery, where the main entrance is located, was designed by architect Johann Wilhelm Cordes as a landscape park and opened in 1877. The eastern extension has a basic geometric structure and was designed in the 1920s by Otto Linné. The redevelopment of the main entrance is one of the first steps in the OHLSDORF 2050 development strategy.

In 2017, Karres and Brands won the competition for the redesign of Ohlsdorf Cemetery’s main entrance. The focus was on spatially and visually improving the entrance area around the information centre and administration building. Aspects such as the monumental value of the buildings and park design, equal accessibility, and visual relationships formed the basis for improving the site’s orientation in the area.

Over the last century, the original design of the entrance area was largely obscured by urban development. The hierarchy was no longer recognisable, and the later addition of a second entrance in a side building shifted the route from the station to the cemetery. Thus, most visitors were entering the cemetery via a side entrance. The buildings and cemetery were barely visible due to the overgrowth of plants.

Through the realisation of a first phase, Karres and Brands will improve the entrance area with a few robust interventions. The restoration of old sightlines to the most important buildings will strengthen the visual relationship between the information centre and the administration building. Pedestrians are now given priority over cars. The choice for distinct natural stone paving creates a coherent space. On their way to the cemetery, visitors will encounter a few clearly recognisable places to help improve their orientation. In front of the information centre, there will be a new meeting point, a place to gather or check the route on the information board. A staircase and a ramp make the cemetery accessible to everyone, and the removal of undergrowth and a few trees makes the original main building once again clearly visible.

Project data
Location Google Maps
Assignment ​- Redesign of the main entrance - VO, DO, TO, specifications, implementation guidance - Toolbox for new bus pavilions/bus system - Design for the main entrance of bus pavilion - Site design
Size ​31,000 m² total
Design ​2017 – 2019
Construction ​2018 - 2019
Status ​Realized
Client ​Hamburger Friedhöfe –AöR
Budget ​€190,000 net (subarea 1)
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Future of Death Studio

Pennsylvania, United States

In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Karres en Brands organizes the Future of Death Studio. Together with a group of 12 exceptional students, the studio dives into contemporary burial culture and its changing character in light of global trends and personal preferences. The studio will be given over two fall semesters. The first studio was given in 2019, the one in 2020 was unfortunately postponed due to Covid-19. The results of the first studio are collected in the Catalogue of Death, showing designs, typologies, studies, rituals, uses and examples. The results of the second studio will be added to form the Atlas of Death.

The one certainty we have is that we are going to die. As the generation of baby boomers is expected to reach this final milestone between 2024 and 2042, the issue of death becomes more and more a planning challenge. For example, if all 76 million American baby boomers are to be buried in standard burial plots, it would require roughly 330 km2 of pure grave space, without factoring in infrastructure, planting etc. That’s the size of Las Vegas. This provokes the question of what is the future of death and how we will be buried and remembered.

The challenge of Life

The 21st century is the age of the city. The majority of the world population lives in cities and this number is only expected to grow. By 2050 the UN predicts as much as 80% of the global population will live in urban environments. At the same time, the city is the main battleground against the impact of climate change. Issues such as heat island effect, water management, energy, and resource production become now more than ever an urban problem. It is probably for the first time in history that cities are tackling more issues than they can spatially afford to. The city of today is therefore desperately reinventing itself, shifting and combining uses normally disassociated in order to generate more space.



The potential of Death

Besides being the designated place for all things related to burials, cemeteries are of vital significance as places for collective memorials, celebrations and ritual gatherings. The generous green areas, space, and tranquility that cemeteries offer, are increasingly considered communal spaces that function like public parks as well as ecological steppingstones in densely populated cities, contributing to the city’s green framework. This is especially true for older cemeteries that were generously designed; ancient trees and historic tombs and buildings tell stories of the past.

Maybe even more relevant, cemeteries are mirrors of our society; they represent the relation between the collective and the individual, the social relations of that moment, the current perception of nature, the accustomed way of burial and the developments in the field of architecture, design and landscape architecture. And in every part of the world it is different, depending on culture, religion, practical necessities, economics etc. Making it not only a mirror of society but also a catalogue of culture and anthropology. The rituals surrounding death used to be defined by the religion of your community and rank in society. Now, society has become more equal but at the same time more diverse, opening the discussion on how cemeteries should adapt according to those societal changes.

Despite its spatial potential and potential as a reflection of the current state of our cultures, cemeteries have always been a place for the dead and the gardener. Even with high urban dynamics on the other side of the gates, cemeteries remained green holes in the city. Traditions, religion and memories governed the grounds and provided a sacred status to the graves. These low dynamic spaces in the city developed at a whole different pace than their surroundings, leaving cemeteries as an untapped resource in the search for space in the city.

The Future of Death

In the Future of Death Studio, we explore the renewed role and meaning of cemeteries in a changing societal and urban context, we rethink the rituals of death and reflect on the sublime nature that is often part of these spaces. What value do our cemeteries have in relation to urbanization, climate change and green structures in the city? How can cemeteries become part of the urban fabric and urban life? If cemeteries are the mirror of society, how can we reflect our modern views in these historical spaces?

As part of the research, we visited Dutch cemeteries with the students. The Dutch Death tour, as we called it, brought the team to many different concepts of burial grounds on all different landscape types throughout the country: New town cemeteries just behind the dikes of Flevoland, the first fully Islamic cemetery in the country in a wet polder landscape, military honor field on high sandy forests and a natural burial ground in the cultural-historic landscapes of the Veluwe Nature Reserve. Filled with a whole new framework for their thoughts, the students returned to Philadelphia.

The research and design from the 2019 Future of Death studio are collected in the catalogue of Death. The students used their designs to focus on the experiential, intangible layer that makes a cemetery such a different place than anything else. Part of the final product was to translate this atmosphere into a model and a short animation. Some of the work can be seen below.

Flowing columbarium - Siyan Liu

The future of death is a forest - Jingbin Wu

Project data
Location ​Pennsylvania, United States Google Maps
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King Willem II Barracks

Tilburg, The Netherlands

The architectural tension between old and new that’s where quality is made

The Willem II Kazerne neighbourhood is part of the Stappegoor area development, located on the southern edge of Tilburg. Central to the development of the new Kazerne neighbourhood are the old barracks, designed in 1939 by A.G. Boost. For decades, this unique structure was hidden from the people of Tilburg, but it will soon be accessible to everyone via the gate in the main building. Karres and Brands was selected in 2019 to devise an urban design and image quality plan for this residential area. The new design is largely inspired by the barracks’ architecture and history.

In the redevelopment of the barracks building and the public space, we believe that it is essential to preserve the traces of the past. Not only have the original design and detailing been valuable sources of inspiration, we’ve also been able to draw from the penitentiary layout. By repurposing the old barracks buildings, the surrounding area comes to life. The construction of the main building, encampment and kitchen building may soon house elderly care, social rental apartments, a school, a nursery and other neighbourhood functions.

The two flanks next to the barracks building offer space for new construction. In terms of footprint, size and scale, these plots respond to the cultural and historical value of the existing buildings and are positioned in such a way that they allow visual connections to the barracks buildings. The district is characterized by its green layout and the rational orthogonal structure, a testament to its military past. Solid building blocks are formed with a clearly coherent architectural style. The barracks-style architecture is translated into the new design in a contemporary and sober way.

Through this design approach, the Kazerne neighbourhood becomes a location that offers a unique quality of life. It is optimally accessible from the city centre and other districts of Tilburg, especially by bicycle or public transport. Although the neighbourhood does facilitate car use, it also explicitly encourages the use of sustainable means of transport such as shared cars, public transport and bicycles. The interior of the neighbourhood is virtually car-free. Streets designed for slow traffic serve as a connecting main element between the various neighbourhood functions. These streets form a green, car-free residential area that connects the neighbourhood squares with the future Stappegoorpark.The car-free environment stimulates movement, meeting and interaction within the neighbourhood itself. As a result, the neighbourhood is not defined by its iconic architecture but by a carefully shaped interaction between building and public space. On the residential streets, the transition between the front door and the street is designed as a contemporary version of the “Delft sidewalk” with the possibility for facade gardens, benches and steps. By widening the residential street into mini-squares, interactions become part of a lively street. In addition, both the neighbourhood park, the neighbourhood square and the collective green areas in the barracks form a rich, small-scale public space structure for the entire Kazerne neighbourhood.

Project data
Location ​Tilburg, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Ontwerp stedenbouwkundig plan, beeldkwaliteitplan en herbestemming Kazerne
Size ​8.50 hectare
Design ​2019 - heden
Status ​In design
Client ​Gemeente Tilburg, Synchroon en BPD-Zuid
Team ​David Kloet, Cristina Collonetti, Ida Pedersen, Casper Lyssen, Chiara Catani
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Kurgalsky Nature Reserve

Russian Federation

Suspenseful near touch enhances nature and artefact.

Together with Strelka KB, Karres en Brands was commissioned to develop a landscape strategy and architectural design for one of Russia’s most beautiful nature reserves. The goal of the project is to provide a unique visitor experience while at the same time preserving and enhancing local ecologies.

Recognizing the beauty and environmental sensitivity of the area, our main idea focuses on the concept of “near touch”: The state in which nature and human intervention reach towards each other and yet do not completely intersect. This state of suspense, positions human intervention as an alien keeping its distance from the context but highlighting both nature and architecture at the same time.

Recognizable objects, floating on subtle legs, with a minimal footprint provide shelter or a unique experience of the nature. They do not touch the site but provide the perfect extension of nature, in order to experience it.  They amplify the experience of nature and strengthen the relation between people and nature. They frame the surrounding landscape and provide new perspectives of the unique nature of the reserve. The family of objects includes a carefully choreographed set of pathways that take the visitor trough the nature reserve as well as a family of architectural interventions providing shelter and a unique experience of nature. Both interventions make use of sustainable, modular and fully removable materials and structures.

The nature trails are designed blend into each landscape typology and provide a full experience of the nature reserve without disturbing its ecosystem.

The family of huts and towers will provide shelter and spaces for observation and experience of nature. Each typology is designed with a clear and recognizable geometry to help with wayfinding and orientation in the vast landscape.

Observation towers allow for optimal observation of animals and surrounding vegetation and respond to the habitat of their placement. In a forest, the focus is on experiencing the verticality and diverse layers of the forest on different heights, while in open meadows and wetlands the focus is on the horizon and horizontal experience of the landscape.

The structure is a freestanding object in nature with a distinctive character to maintain relation between people and nature. Its height can be adjusted according to the habitat in which is placed allowing visitors to experience different species by providing different observation heights.

The observation tower is divided into two main structures: steel pillar support construction and wooden volume. The steel structure keeps its distance from ground. It is composed by a set of thin legs and diagonal bars span between them to increase stability. The two-level staircase elegantly rests on the forest floor while twisting to reach the observation tower. Vertical facade elements cover the main structure of the volume in a play of transparency and opacity. They make the volume appear monolithic from certain angels while from others they open to reveal a light and transparent structure.

According to type of observation, the façade lamellas open up to frame views in various manners: they can either frame the view of the surrounding and generate a panoramic 360 experience of the landscape, or focus the view through smaller openings while hiding the observer from sensitive species and generating minimal disturbances, or just framing a spectacular view of the landscape.

Diving towers are a special element within the family of objects that allows visitors to experience nature in a completely different than observation towers. Placed in the middle of a lake or open water, they encourage visitors to make an effort in order to get a new perspective on the surrounding landscape.

Within the diving towers, we can distinguish two types that are characterized by the habitat they are placed in: diving towers in a lake environment and diving towers in a sea environment.  Depending on habitat, the architectural expression of the structure is different on the lake and sea environment. The lake is surrounded by various types of habitats and its calm surface is an addition to surrounding landscape, thus diving towers placed in this type of environment should not disturb the view. The seawater is identified by its vast openness, thus diving towers placed in this type of environment should not disappear from the horizon and should be visible as a special element emerging from water.

The guest houses are inspired by secluded villages in remote woods. They are designed to evoke the feeling of home and shelter, when discovering secluded campsites in rough nature. Built to be recognizable beacons of shelter in the vast nature reserve they combine the characteristic roof shape with the suggestion of a chimney the becoming modern interpretations of a classical typology. 

The individual units are modular constructions built from timber and meant to host from 1 (‘S’ house) to 2 (‘M’ house) people or a small group (‘L’ house). Placed in different habitats the houses are designed to enhance the natural characteristics of the surroundings as well as the sky by exaggerating the roof and offering a skylight window at the end of it.

Project data
Location ​Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Landscape and Architectural Design
Size ​Strategic vision 60.000 ha
Design ​2017-2018
Construction ​2020-
Status ​Documentation delivered, under construction
Client ​Undisclosed
Budget ​Undisclosed
Team ​Darius Reznek, Sander Vedder, Joost de Natris, Natalia Gruszczynska, Justyna Chmielewska, Oana Paraschiv, Shan Shao
In collaboration with ​Strelka KB, Vivid Vision
Copyright images ​Karres en Brands, Strelka KB, Vivid Vision
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The Open City

Grasbrook -Hamburg, Germany

Karres en Brands and Mandaworks proposed a model “City of the future” for Hamburg’s newest district, in an iconic harbor location south of the Elbe.

A true city in the Harbor 
Like many historically industrial cities, Hamburg is constantly negotiating the boundary between ’city’ and ’harbor’. The result is a harbor and a city that have grown apart. The harbor looks outwards towards the waters, large open spaces and technological efficiency, while the city looks inwards, in search of urbanity and human scale.  To stimulate an entirely new city model, where innovation is central, it is important that the two faces of Hamburg meet and interact. We do not believe in the ’citification’ Grasbrook, defined by standardized, efficient housing solutions and investor driven, frictionless-free development. The dream for the ’Open City’ is to create the framework for an entirely new type of district, developed at the intersection of city and harbor, with contextual and authentic typologies of spaces and buildings that respond to the needs of Hamburg today and in the future. We believe that Grasbrook is the ideal platform for the reinvention of the boundaries between harbor and city in Hamburg.

Open Space as DNA 
In ”The Open City”, public spaces form the organizing structure of the plan. The plan is not just physically connected to its surroundings, it is an extension of them in every way. The public spaces of the new district extend beyond surrounding infrastructures and barriers to connect to Veddel and the city beyond. They define a flexible yet compact framework that leaves maximum space for existing and new habitats and ecology while at the same time supporting city life and recreation. 

Compact urbanity 
For Hamburg to successfully realize the jump over the Elbe, it requires urban and active qualities where it lands. We believe that a dense, flexible urbanity is essential to create a thriving platform for city life! “The Open city” offers more than just a collection of ’business as usual’ apartments. It defines clear and compact spaces that allow for maximum concentration of vibrant program, active ground floors and modular, flexible housing units that can adapt to the needs of the City and neighborhood.

The Open City is already there 
We believe in heritage as the foundation of of any good urban plan. The Open City does not erase the rough and broken but celebrates it! Public spaces build on existing site conditions and enhance them. The most striking elements of the industrial harbor landscape give a genuine character and identity to the plan, spaces, and landscape.

The HHalle 
The HHalle is the main public backbone of the neighborhood and will become a completely new type of public space south of the Elbe with resonance for the entire city. Created through the creative preservation of the incredible dock roof, the HHalle is indoor and outdoor at the same time, green and hardscape, industrial yet humane, promenade, infrastructure, plaza and park in one. An iconic - and uniquely Grasbrook - space like no other!

Open Park Island 
By building a compact district, “The Open City” provides maximum space for landscape towards the Elbe. Grasbrook will be the green counterpart of HafenCity. Built at the intersection of industrial heritage, ecology and urban life, the park combines these three ingredients to create a green space that is true to its roots and forward looking. The Elbbrückenpark is not a classical “Green Commons” park typology but an urban wilderness landscape, an ecological and recreational landmark in Hamburg.
“The Open City” works with the existing dynamics of ecology instead of against them. Based on the tidal movement of the waters, a series of groynes or park anchors will catch sediment and slowly stimulate the development of an exciting tidal park at the heart of the plan. It combines nature, sports and industrial heritage and brings Grasbrook and Veddel together through active public space.

Open to the surroundings 
The Open City is optimally connected to its surroundings. Its public spaces are testimony to this. This new type of infrastructure is more than just a physical connector but becomes a platform for city life, economy and ecology. The main public spaces of the new district extend beyond the site boundaries to connect to the surroundings: HHalle, Elbbrückenpark, Saalehafen Tidal and Sports park, use combinations of urban program, ecological corridors or recreational infrastructure to stitch Grasbrook into its context.

Open Next Nature 
In “The Open City” public spaces are more than just spaces for recreation. We believe the time in which large green spaces are the universal answer for resilient urban development are long passed. We must discover new ways of bringing urbanity and ecology together. Global challenges of our time such as climate change demand a whole new approach to public spaces. In “The Open City”, public spaces form an intricate ecosystem that deals with climate proofing, water storage, sustainability, microclimate and ecology while at the same time providing space for experimentation and innovation. They are what we call Next Nature! 

Open Active Plinths
Grasbrook is a mixed-use district integrating residential and office space with collective, cultural, industrial and productive facilities to achieve a synergetic balance. The scale and type of production ranges from large-scale vertical manufacturing buildings in the western area bordering the existing port, to flexible event, culture and commercial spaces at HHalle and collective and creative production spaces and studios in the residential area of the Moldauhafenquartier. Under each block in the district we take use of the underground space to create flexible basement structures serving the needs of bicycles, micro mobility units, vehicles, new urban logistics, and sustainable infrastructure.

Hackable city 
The Open City is a hackable city. Our idea of the city is a flexible framework where spaces and buildings can be occupied in various ways. Buildings are designed using principles of flexible and modular open buildings. Public spaces are sketched as extensions of the indoor program (or vice versa) blurring the lines between architecture and public space and allowing for flexible use and interaction. This defines a dynamic city that stimulates “hacking” and allows spaces to be shaped by their users, from intimate discussions to small sp

Project data
Location ​Grasbrook -Hamburg, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​Masterplan, Public Space Design, Architecture
Size ​50ha, 850.000m2GFA
Design ​2019-2020
Status ​Invited competition Second Prize
Client ​HafenCity
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Sylvia Karres, Davor Dusanic, Igor Sladoljev, Inga Zielonka, Natalia Gruszczynska, Oana Paraschiv, Abbigail MacPhee, Oswin Noordergraaf, Justyna Chmielewska, Neil Moncrieff, Volker Lescow, Tom Thijssen
In collaboration with ​Mandaworks
Copyright images ​Karres en Brands, Mandaworks, Tegmark
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Haunstetten - The Learning City

Augsburg, Germany

Circular city of tomorrow!

Karres en Brands and Adept is one of the winning teams of the international competition for a new 200ha district in Augsburg Germany.  With the proposal Haunstetten + The Learning City Karres en Brands and Adept have been awarded 2nd place and selected by the jury along with the other 2 winners for further negotiation.

Developed in an agricultural landscape at the outskirts of Augsburg, 30min away from Munich, it offers outstanding opportunities for high quality affordable housing. Fully built the new district will incorporate around 700.000m2 of program, generous public spaces and a large park.

Circular economy
The Learning City stands for our ambition to develop a truly sustainable district. A city that will be able to generate its own energy and produce a large part of its food intake and construction materials locally. Together with a very ambitious plan for recycling sharing and re-using materials our vision aims to minimize waste and promote a circular society. The Learning City puts forth an entirely new economic model built around circularity and connected to the nearby innovation campus.

Landscape based city
The Learning City is a vision that embraces and strengthens the qualities of the existing, as the starting point to create the city of tomorrow. A vision that links new and old, combines history and future and intertwines city and landscape.

Adaptive planning approach
The vision puts forth a highly adaptable and learning plan that can change as it develops. A simple and clear structure inspired by the underlying agricultural and natural landscape forms the basis of the plan and sets the framework for the future. Within this robust framework the city can change and adapt to the unexpected always learning and improving. Where traditional planning looks into rules and regulations the learning city offers freedom and experimentation: a timeless framework for city life.

More about the competition

Project data
Location ​Augsburg, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​Masterplan new district
Size ​200 ha
Design ​2019 - 2020
Status ​Selected for further development
In collaboration with ​ADEPT
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Toy Museum

Sergiev Posad, Russian Federation

Snakes and Ladders - playful routing through the heritage site

The concept inspired by the board game “snakes and ladders” defines a playful route connecting the UNESCO World Heritage building of the Toy Museum situated in Russian town Sergiev Posad to its surroundings.

Sergiev Posad is a spiritual centre of Russia with its famous Monastery Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra, that attracts a lot of visitors each year. The area of the monastery together with the Toy Museum site is a heritage protected by UNESCO. The city is also known from the invention of Matryoshka - a wooden toy known all over the world. The heart of the far-reaching toy crafting history is the Toy Museum building, around which Karres en Brands was asked to make a design. The building, situated on top of the hill at the edge of the river valley, engages in a panoramic view of the Kelar pond and the Monastery.

The design developed by Karres en Brands is a gently sloping elevated wooden pathway which becomes a new connector between the building and the landscape, and between the tourists and inhabitants of the town. The route will meander among the existing and newly planted trees and it will integrate exciting play elements along the way, such as swings, nets and slides. Its curved line guides view towards different directions each time it turns and it finally lands at the lake’s promenade. The project increases the coherence and accessibility of the natural area of lake and enhances the continuity in the big scale landscape. The embankment of the pond is popular with local residents regardless of the season: in the wintertime people are ice skating or sliding down the hill; in the summer people organize picnics, fish, swim, play games or walk.

The path creates a playful threshold between the museum and its surroundings. By connecting touristic route of the Monastery with the river valley routing the museum site becomes a place for both the visitors and the inhabitants of the town. The identity of the monastery, the identity of the river valley and the identity of the Toy Museum overlap thanks to the new connection. The path will be a unique object in the city capable of becoming a condenser for different social groups: both tourist attraction and a place for the townspeople.

Project data
Location ​Sergiev Posad, Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Park design
Size ​1 hectare
Design ​2018
Status ​Under construction – first stage built
Client ​Strelka KB
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Justyna Chmielewska, Jeroen Hogeraad, Crispijn van Saas, Sander Vedder, Joost de Natris, Paola Salviano de Souza
In collaboration with ​Strelka KB
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The station zone Amersfoort

Amersfoort, The Netherlands

The Station Zone: The city’s business card

“The city should start at the station.” With this basic idea, Karres and Brands has created a vision to make the area in and around the station square, as well as the route to the city centre, more attractive. Our vision aims to contribute to a green, healthy city by ensuring that its beating heart, the mobility hub, is a highly functional place where a pleasant interchange between trains, busses, bicycles and taxis can happen. And, the pedestrian is central to the entire plan.

Our main theme: create space. Bicycles will be parked underground rather than on the station square. The car and bus lanes will be combined and the intersections on the Stationsstraat will be redesigned. This will create more room for cyclists and pedestrians and provide space for an attractive green route to the city centre. The station square will become a pleasant place to be with optimal walking routes, places to linger and relax, green and water elements, and seating areas. Bike paths from all directions will be optimally connected to the new bicycle garage. On the square, there will be a large entrance to the bicycle parking with a moving walkway so that even older cyclists can comfortably bridge the difference in height. Most bike commuters arrive via the Smalle Pad. In the new plan, they will be able to cycle directly into the bicycle garage via an architectural connection that will be added to the backside of the current station building. This connector was one of the city council’s top priorities. 


The vision is further elaborated in a broad set of measures for the public space and traffic structure, as well as for the buildings and the overall liveliness of the streetscape. Other concrete measures proposed will contribute to the climate-proofing of the station square and the route to the city centre. The diversity of trees and plants and the installation of insect hotels and ecological herb gardens will offer pleasant spaces for both humans and wildlife. The route can also play a role in the city’s metabolism by linking energy flows, using residual heat, storing energy and maybe even producing energy. All materials are either CO2 neutral or recycled. A “smart” lighting system will be installed so lights can react to different forms of use.

The plan was drawn up in close consultation with all stakeholders. The city contributed to the planning process during various brainstorming events, and the plan incorporates the many desires, ideas and concerns expressed during an intensive dialogue. If the municipality and council members agree to the plan, construction is expected to begin in 2020.

Project data
Location ​Amersfoort, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Vision Stationarea Amersfoort
Size ​20 ha
Design ​2017 - present
Status ​Vision
Client ​Municipality of Amersfoort
In collaboration with ​Goudappel Coffeng Movares
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Colours of Gorky

Moscow, Russian Federation

A new piece in the colourful mosaic of Gorky park

Karres en Brands was one of the selected teams for the Closed International competition for Gorky Park Main Entrance. Gorky Park today is a point of significance for Moscow: each year, it is visited by more than 13 million citizens and tourists. The park is highly valued as a historical and cultural monument, as well as a free space, offering a rich event program for recreation in the centre of Moscow.

The entrance area is the face of the park — the portal leading visitors away from the city into the green park space. Through our design we were challenged to reconceive the historical landmark, offering a new contemporary addition worthy of the park’s heritage. “Colours of Gorky” is our search to understand the essence of Gorky Park, a proposal for the kind of space we want to create, as well as a vision for the park itself.

Gorky Park is like no other. It is not structured by recognizable corridors and has no inherent hierarchy or structure. It is a collage of spaces, each with its strong identity, that are interlinked. Gorky can be completely taken apart and put together in any random construction and would still function as it does. Its deconstruction reveals the importance of its individual spaces. Each unique space is a destination in itself and can work independently from the rest. Put together they define a park where the classical understanding of structure is irrelevant.

Through our proposal we are adding new piece to the Gorky Mosaic, and at the same time paving the way for new pieces to emerge in the future. The Gorky entrance Square, although positioned where once the border of the park used to be, now lies centrally in what is Gorky and Muzeon Park. Its importance lies thus in its ability to function not just as a representative space for Gorky, but as a node in the city, bringing the two parks together.

The open gesture of the tunnel and stairs define a large central space that can be flexibly used for a large variety of events. The generous space can house large crowds when important events are being organized, allows for maximum accessibility for service and technical vehicles and orientates the square towards the central area by defining large sitting edge overlooking the event area. At the same time the area can be occupied by the thin water film when not used for events in order to give the space a more human scale.

Project data
Location ​Moscow, Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Re-design park, entrance square
Size ​78,900 m²
Design ​2017-2018
Status ​Competiton entry
Client ​Strelka KB
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Gate of Hoorn

Hoorn, The Netherlands

A new identity for the Hoorn station zone

Karres en Brands have provided the urban development plan for Poort van Hoorn, the city of Hoorn's largest ever urban development assignment. After an intensive process with all stakeholders and local residents, Hoorn's municipal council unanimously approved the urban development plan. Our partners NS Stations and the provincial council of Noord-Holland are also investing in the plan. Karres en Brands is currently elaborating the plan even further. 

Poort van Hoorn encompasses the immediate vicinity of the station area. The current situation is characterized by a lack of comfort and urban quality and is completely dominated by the nature of the existing hub's infrastructure. Over the years, the area has become a collection of residual urban spaces as a result. The urban development plan is designed to transition this area into a valuable and integral part of the city. Poort van Hoorn contributes to Hoorn's future as an attractive and lively city with 1,000 new homes, new public functions, an enormous boost to the quality of public space, and an optimally functioning transport hub.

The urban development plan provides for a clear main public framework from which to build on within the landscape, and as a logical framework for routes, places, and urban projects. The green canal structure will be restored, a new station square will be added on the north side, and a new traverse will connect city districts. Museum Steamtram will be central to the plans, with a display window for the historic locomotives and carriages, and a beautiful square at the entrance. More space will be created by ensuring a more compact railway infrastructure. Each area will get its own character and identity within the main framework. The area around the station will become an extension of the centre. A new district – that's sandwiched between the beach and the city centre – is being created on the Pelmolen-Prisma site. A link to the city is being created in Hoorn's city centre at a place that used to be a fracture zone.

In addition to its function as a transfer location, the modular hub will also become an important part of the city's attractiveness to those arriving in Hoorn. From the moment you arrive, you feel that you are in Hoorn and that Hoorn welcomes you. There will be around 3,700 attractive indoor bicycle sheds on both sides of the station. The bus station will move to the north side, where there will also be space for a large mobility hub made for inner-city parking. As a result, a large part of traffic from cars is moved out of the city's historic centre and space is made for pedestrians, cyclists, and greenery. 


Project data
Location ​Hoorn, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Urban development plan
Design ​March 2020 - now
Status ​Urban development plan approved
Client ​Municipality Hoorn
In collaboration with ​Municipality of Hoorn, NS Stations, ProRail, Provincie Noord-Holland, SITE urban development, Witteveen+Bos, Alcedo
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Passerelle Zwolle

Zwolle, The Netherlands

Connecting North and South

The Zwolle train station is the most important railway junction in the northeastern Netherlands. Together with the 24-stop bus station, the station is the main hub of the regional public transport network. Located between Hanzeland and the city centre, the station acts as a pivotal point in Zwolle’s spatial-economic development. A new footbridge, known as the Passerelle Zwolle, will remove the barrier created by the railway and help drive further development in the adjoining Zuid district.

Having previously submitted a development perspective for the area, Karres and Brands was asked to further elaborate the footbridge. In the design study, various scenarios were elaborated and assessed for functionality, feasibility and financial consequences in consultation with the client and environment. In the design study, the footbridge’s landing on the city-centre side forms a new anchor point in the city. Spacious and comfortable staircases invite the pedestrian to make use of the bridge, and a new ’tapis roulant’ allows cyclists to easily reach the top. The footbridge is designed as an elevated street. Its image is defined by seating and characteristic planting, and it can be connected to new public buildings on both sides. In terms of materialization, it is a contemporary translation of the old footbridge from 1938. It is a clear and functional structure, and one that can be easily read: Zwolle’s “Iron Bridge”. The bridge’s connection with the past is further enriched with the use of new sustainable materials such as wood, flowering plants and an innovative “smart” lighting system.

Based on the design study, the municipal council was able to make informed decisions regarding the footbridge’s form and the related demolition and construction of buildings at the landings. It was also decided that the footbridge would be given top priority due to its importance for connecting Hanzeland and boosting development in Zuid.

Project data
Location ​Zwolle, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Scenario study and development of the passerelle
Size ​1 hectare
Design ​2018-2019
Construction ​2024
Status ​Preferred plan approved by board of directors
Client ​NS Stations Zwolle municipality
In collaboration with ​Team V, Prorail, Provincie Overijssel
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Mönchengladbach, Germany

Beyond shopping.

Karres en Brands has developed a new concept for the main shopping street Hindenburgstraße, in Mönchengladbach, Germany. As part of the urban strategy, Mönchengladbach wants to revitalize the street which as, in many other cities is faced with shop closing and decreasing commercial activity. Internet, changing daily shopping patterns and new store concepts have a big effect on the liveliness of the shopping street and urges for a new vision for city centres.

The Hindenburgstraße extends from the station to the historical city centre and market square. But the real DNA of Mönchengladbach, the historical character and stunning topography, are currently hidden from the main artery of the city. By looking beyond the street and reconnecting it to its adjacent neighbourhoods, we discovered new potential for development and revitalization.

The new organisation is formed by the introduction of three districts, each with their own distinct qualities, programming and design: The City Heart, the City Balcony and the City quarter. The districts will be distinguished by a different mix of living, working, leisure/gastronomy and shopping, strengthening the existing uses and identities. This is furthermore supported by interventions in the public spaces, such as tree planting, water management facilities and street furniture, making each area even more specific. Instead of emphasize the linear character of the Hindenburgstraße, each district will colour the Hindenburgstraße and give it its own identity.

The city Heart is the historical centre. The concept is enhancing the existing cultural and gastronomic program by offering a new quality of public space. An open and empty market square becomes a green oasis in the city centre by intensive tree planting. The city Quarter builds on the city strategy of transforming the neighbourhood into a mixed use residential, working and retail quarter. By enforcing the spatial connections, we believe the potential can even be bigger than thought till now. The City balcony is the most challenging and new concept of the three quarters. We propose a- symmetrical street: the sunny north side is more a traditional shopping street but the south side of the street opens itself to the DNA of the city. A mix of interventions like terracing the street to enhance the topography, diminish the paved surface and replaced it by green and even demolish built structure to make the connection to the cultural park make the street into a place to be, shopping or not.

By bringing back the historical and inherent qualities to the main street, the city centre ones again become relevant to the citizens of Mönchengladbach, not as a monofunctional shopping street but as a naturally part of the city centre.  

Project data
Location ​Mönchengladbach, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​Sketch design street transformation
Size ​32.400 m²
Design ​2019
Status ​Concept design
Client ​Stadt Mönchengladbach
Team ​Bart Brands, Ida Pedersen
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Weezenlanden Noord

Zwolle, The Netherlands

Collectivity is the starting point for the indoor and outdoor spaces and resounds on all levels

Karres en Brands is working on the design of Weezenlanden Noord in Zwolle, a new neighbourhood close to the city center after winning the design competition organized by housing association Openbaar Belang. Based on the urban development plan of Urhanh, Barcode Architects and Karres en Brands developed this integral green-urban masterplan, in close cooperation with Nijhuis, Explorius, Bouwinvest en DGRM. The plan consists of approximately 500 houses, 230 of which are social, with great diversity in public space and housing typology.

Collectivity is the starting point for the design of the indoor and outdoor spaces and resounds on all levels. The scale of the individual elements are an important reason for encounters between neighbours in your own street or on the other side of the block.

The meeting places designed around objects form a hybrid between your livingroom and the outside space. Such as a table, bench, stairs – integrated into a place in the outdoor area where you would like to meet with your family or neighbours. These special objects contribute to the recongnisability and collectivity of Weezenlanden Noord. By flexibly placing the objects through the phasing, and moving them along with the growth of the area, a high-quality outdoor space is created already in the first stage of the project.

In this special city district we look at green not only for use and experience, but also from the point of view of biodiversity and climate adaptation. Weezenlanden integrates biodiversity at all levels of scale. Water is also an important part of the design strategy of Weezenlanden Noord. It is a recognizable connector between environment, building and resident. Insteat of draining water as quickly as possible, the strategy in Weezenlanden Noord is to collect, filter and reuse the water in its own area. The mix of intensive green roofs, nature-inclusive facades, varied vegetation with water storage means that not only a lot of water is retained, but also a higher level of biodiversity is provided.

The next ten years we will work on the realization of this inclusive residential area where everyone can live, and which fits in with Zwolle. The first houses are expected to be delivered in 2023.

Project data
Location ​Zwolle, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design new district close to inner city Zwolle
Size ​2,5 ha
Design ​2019-2029
Status ​​Design
Client ​Woonstichting Openbaar Belang
Team ​Barcode Architects, Nijhuis, Explorius, Bouwinvest, DGMR
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New cultural heart for Stavanger

Stavanger, Norway

With the proposal ‘Three Houses and a Long Table’ Ghilardi+Hellsten and Karres en Brands with Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS have won the international design competition to transform the historical Nytorget site in Stavanger into a vibrant cultural hub. The new city space combines diverse cultural program such as a youth cultural center (Metropolis), art gallery and shops with diverse office program around a multi-functional green city space.

Located between the historical city center and the city’s eastern district, Nytorget currently houses some of the most exciting cultural and art initiatives for the youth of Stavanger, such as Metropolis (a cultural center for the youth). With a convincing proposal Ghilardi+Hellsten and Karres en Brands have built on the unique qualities of the site and put forth a plan anchored in the city fabric and centered around public space.

The jury notes: ”The proposal is chosen as winner, among other things, for its clear idea of a well-defined and delimited urban space. The main intervention also creates strong connections to the city and connects Nytorget with the old city center in a convincing way. Three houses and a long table” concentrate the energy towards a combined Nytorget around a green long table. The jury believes that this is crucial in order to facilitate urban life on the square.”

The Long table is a timeless simple intervention with the sole purpose of highlighting the activity on the square. Inspired by the community ritual revolving around the Longtable the proposal puts forth a metaphorical stage for community life. The Longtable is a hackable piece of urban infrastructure articulated by a set of edges and family of playful satellites that organize and activate the space strategically, while leaving room for informality and spontaneity in between. The Longtable is first and foremost a green oasis in the city! Instead of removing green to make room for activities we set green at the heart of the public space: a park in a square. This new space becomes the most important organizing element of the square, concentrating activity and providing a unique space that changes throughout the day and from season to season. Under the transparent green pergola of the trees, people can find comfort, meet up, and enjoy a break.

Three Houses is a mixed-use development that combines flexible space for various tenants (office, hotel, culture) interconnected by a multi-functional base that houses the local Youth Culture House (Metropolis). Each of the three houses respond to their context and articulate the streets-cape on all sides while still facilitating pedestrian connectivity trough a intimate inner space with characteristic narrow passages. The first two floors are designed for programmatic mix, with public groundfloors facilitating space for cafes, restaurants, gyms and shops. The office buildings are purposefully conceived to be topologically varied and house a greater diversity of businesses. Common to all three buildings is the fact they are built in wood, a local, sustainable material, with unique open floors and spectacular city views.

Project data
Location ​Stavanger, Norway Google Maps
Size ​1ha public space/parc, 15.000/20.000 m2 GFA culture/public/offices
Design ​2019
Status ​First prize in international design competition
In collaboration with ​Ghillardi + Hellsten, Florian Kosche
Copyright images ​ Visuals: PIKS
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MARK Green vertical village

Utrecht, Netherlands

Together with de Architekten Cie., KCAP Architects and Planners and Geurst & Schulze architecten, Karres en brands created the overall vision of MARK, which takes advantage of this unique opportunity for Utrecht to set a new standard in the approach on high-rise. High-rise is not a goal in itself, but needs to contribute to the dynamic of the city, the liveability on street level and provide an affordable, social and inclusive community with new mobility concepts within reach. Karres en Brands developed the concept which literally elevates the landscape into the sky in the form of a vertical village, with an urban forest at its heart and urban agriculture integrated on every level. The plan consists of three towers of 80, 100 and 140 metres high and will include 1,128 residences in different sectors.

The history and specific living quality of Leidsche Rijn formed the inspiration for the entire design a will include a high concentration of community spaces and spaces for collectivity such as rooftop restaurants, swimming pool, gym, communal laundry and kitchen facilities, shared visitor’s rooms, flexible work spots or makers’ ateliers for artists. An ambitious mobility concept will a.o. strategies provide a fleet of 100 shared cars for the future inhabitants. 

MARK offers a fantastic place where healthy urban living is stimulated in all its facets. Space has been reserved for common use and facilitating meetings between the residents. The project aims to combat the loneliness of living at height and can be seen as a modern vertical village. 

MARK consists of three towers, each with an illuminated ‘crown’ that refers to the history of Leidsche Rijn as a horticultural area. The crowns and the lower roofs function as horticultural greenhouses, in which urban agriculture can be used on a considerable scale. Here, the future of food production is seamlessly integrated in the daily lives of the inhabitants. The project thus contributes to making the food chain in the city more sustainable. Local production of vegetables and crops for consumption by residents and local neighbourhoods. This short food chain has a negative CO2 balance and at the same time guarantees a new biodiversity in the urban area. The homes will be delivered climate-neutral (EPC=0).


MARK offers the inhabitants of Utrecht a striking building with a highlight in the form of a ‘rooftop’ experience centre with restaurant and a glass balcony at 130 meters height. Restaurant and balcony are open to the public. Close to the area, a high-rise lab will be set up and residents of Leidsche Rijn will be challenged to participate in various parts of the development. 

Project data
Location ​Utrecht, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​​Highrise development
Size ​​1.128 apartments
Design ​​2018
Construction ​2019 - present
Status ​Won competition under development
Client ​Stadswaarde, Koopmans Bouwgroep B.V. (TBI) and JP van Eesteren (TBI)
In collaboration with ​de Architekten Cie., KCAP Architects and Planners and Geurst & Schulze architecten
Copyright images ​Architekten Cie., Karres en Brands, Studio A2, Vero visuals
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Vrijlandt garden village

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The garden village of the 21st century

With the development of the Vrijlandt Garden Village, Rotterdam will become home to yet another energy-neutral district. Vrijlandt builds on the principles of the 19th-century garden village while also providing an answer to the specific challenges of our time, namely inclusivity, new mobility, circularity, biodiversity preservation and climate adaptation. Karres and Brands was commissioned by Ballast Nedam to devise an urban plan and public space design.

Designing a new garden village

The original garden village concept is based on a healthy living environment, the promotion of community spirit and fascinating eye-level staging. The adjacent Vreewijk, designed by H.P. Berlage and Grandpré Molière, serves as an excellent example of this. The Vrijlandt Garden Village will be a new chapter in Vreewijk’s history. It is optimally connected to the surrounding areas via new bike routes, neighbourhood facilities, two new bridges and a tram stop. The plan consists of 240 houses and 50 apartments.

At the heart of the plan is a new canal surrounded by communal facilities such as a neighbourhood greenhouse, a cherry garden and a playground island. A variety of intimate streets run perpendicular to the canal, and thanks to subtle differences in landscaping and architecture, each street has its own character. From each street, the eye is drawn to a house across the water. The streetscape is determined by large lines, front gardens with hedges and a variety of tree species. In order to increase the recognizability of individual streets, each one has a dominant tree species. In addition, various types of hedges will be planted around the front gardens, enhancing the greenness of the streets. The continuous hedges in the back and the architecturally integrated flower boxes create an overall appearance that is lush and garden-like.

Car parking areas are, for the most part, not visible from the inner courtyards. This gives the streets a car-free, small-scale and green character. The chosen parking solution actually adds to the garden village concept, creating atmospheric and meaningful places that are an extension of the private home and garden. The elaboration of the public space and architecture is based on the primary characteristics of a garden village, including front gardens, hedges and architectural elements such as gates, bay windows, red roofs and intricate brickwork.

Designed for the 21st century

Our public space design is climate-adaptive and child-friendly. Playfulness will be brought to the landscape in a variety of ways, and every street will have wide sidewalks. By including elements like nesting boxes for birds in the façades and hedgehog houses under storage areas, the design also contributes to a rich biodiversity. The starting point for the entire plan is energy neutrality. Solar panels will be installed on top of storage sheds and on the rear sides of roofs, out of sight from the streets. Through all these interventions, the new garden village will respond to the challenges of the 21st century.


Project data
Location ​Rotterdam, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Urban plan en public space design
Size ​7,7 ha / 290 dwellings
Design ​2019
Construction ​Starting in 2021
Status ​Winner tender
Client ​Ballast Nedam
Team ​Jasper Nijveldt, Oswin Noordergraaf, Cristina Colonetti, Joep Meijer
In collaboration with ​KOW Architecten, Winters & ©️, VERO Digital
Copyright images ​Karres en Brands, VERO Digital (renders)
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Hoef Urban Quarter

Amersfoort, Nederland

From monofunctional office zone to multifaceted urban district


Hoef West is currently a monofunctional office zone with various educational institutions. After an intensive process with owners, developers, companies, residents and the municipality, Karres and Brands has developed a plan to gradually transform the area into a multifaceted, inclusive city district. The realization of 2,500 new housing units and the expansion of several educational institutions, combined with the preservation of 5,000 jobs, all make Hoef West one of the largest regional area development projects in the Netherlands.

Central to Karres and Brands’ urban plan is the redefinition of public space. The exchange of private and public space allows for the creation of a more compact area and the development of a strong urban framework with new streetwalls, compact squares, parks and canals. The public space, which is currently functional, hard and primarily intended for cars, will be transformed into a modern, climate adaptive public space designed with pedestrians and cyclists in mind. A new canal structure across the area will connect various green and water structures. At the heart of the district will be the new Hoef Park. The introduction of small streets will make the area closely knit and permeable. 

Mobility hubs, alternative mobility concepts, pedestrians and cyclists play a central role in the plan for Hoef West. New bicycle and pedestrian connections with the surrounding area will be created, and bicycle paths will be adapted for e-bikes. Cars and bikes will be parked in mobility hubs and shared transportation can be rented. The mobility hubs will also serve as energy storage points. At ground level, there is space for local facilities such as a pick-up point, a dry-cleaning service or a gym. By moving the bicycles parked in the square in front of the station to the closest mobility hub, the refurbished square can become Hoef West’s trademark.

The fundamental principles for construction are the composite city block made up of distinct structures and variation in housing typologies, workspaces and attractive interior courtyards. In collaboration with Urhahn, the plan is translated into a development framework with concrete urbanistic preconditions and guidelines for the development of individual plots. These preconditions relate to construction, compactness, functional variety and sustainability and are designed to serve as a guiding light for developers. In short, the preconditions are designed to contribute to smart, sustainable development. And not only is the plan focused on energy, it also aims to promote inclusiveness, circularity, mobility, health, greenification, biodiversity and climate adaptation. Developers will be explicitly asked to think outside of the parameters of their own property. This will make the development complex, while at the same time bringing a distinct added value to the area as a whole. 

In September 2019, the plan was approved by the municipal council of Amersfoort. In cooperation with various stakeholders and the municipality, it will be implemented in the coming years. Karres and Brands will design the public space and continue to serve as supervisor for future development. Construction is expected to begin in 2020.

Read more about this project and download the development framework on the Amersfoort Municipality website 


De Hoef West in the news:

De Stad Amersfoort

Project data
Location ​Amersfoort, Nederland Google Maps
Assignment ​Ontwikkelkader De Hoef West en supervisie
Size ​38 hectare, 2500 woningen, 5000 banen
Design ​2007 - heden
Status ​Vastgesteld
Client ​Gemeente Amersfoort
In collaboration with ​Urhahn
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Svobodny, Russian Federation

In collaboration with STRELKA KB, Karres en Brands has developed a regenerative strategy for the city Svobodny, in the Amur region, Russia. Svobodny, a formerly booming mining city, with worn-down and insufficient public infrastructure, expects rapid growth of the economy and an increase in population. This presents special challenges and opportunities for the city.

The complexity of the assignment, concerning both social, spatial, economic and technical challenges, has required a broad research and interdisciplinary working process. Guided by 7 vision points and through a holistic and robust landscape-based approach, the strategy aims to regenerate the city, responding to the many existing layers of the city and the unique qualities of its surrounding landscape.

Green city

The city of Svobodny is located on 3 terraces at the edge between the Zeya river and the hills, north of the city. Today the great natural assets surrounding the city are both mentally and physically disconnected, hidden, inaccessible, and polluted with trash. The main aim of the green city vision is to develop the city with a stronger relation to its natural resources, making it more attractive and locally embedded in its context. By restoring and reconnecting existing green spaces in and around the city, and adding a new hierarchy of green spaces, recreative qualities are brought directly to the front-door of the residents, improving both ecology and improving everyday life in the city.

Landscape types 1. Hills / forest 2. Green border 3. Green corridor - river valley 4. River (Zeya) 5. Wetland (seasonally standing water) 6. Plateau edge

Recreational route

A recreational route based on existing infrastructure such as historical water towers, connects the different destinations around the city, and highlights the unique landscape features of the area. Guided by signage, local interventions, and a virtual platform, the route puts Svobodny on the regional map, as an attractive destination for both tourists and local residents.

Centres of city life

The framework of public spaces is an important part of creating a cohesive, active, culturally rich and safe city. Svobodny has a large group of active citizens who are part of contributing to a wide range of city events and festivals during the year. However, these events are not well supported by the public spaces in the city, and the network of public spaces is fragmented, unequally distributed and lacks identity. By identifying meeting points at different scales, historical objects, valuable cultural programs and provision
of amenities, a strong hierarchy is reintroduced, and the local character of each living district is strengthened.

Natural and Urban water system

Water strategy

The current water system is not properly developed to manage run-off water from the hills, heavy-rainfall and flooding incidents. As part of the green strategy,simple interventions upgrade the existing water system, making the city more antifragile, by preventing flooding, erosion of road surfaces and minimizing pollution in natural systems.

Urban water system Buffer area for storm water Improvement of air quality Vegetation and water improving climate comfort in public spaces

Safe and comfortable streets

The streets in Svobodny are currently in a poor condition. Many roads are without paving, leaving the dirt roads open to erosion and worsening dust and dirt pollution. This creates an uncomfortable microclimate, limiting activities and impacting health in the urban spaces. Furthermore, the organisation of the street profiles and an under equipment and low-service level for the public transport system makes travel for pedestrians and cyclists inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Through the establishment of a street hierarchy, major repairs and reconstruction is given priority and at the same time, used as a tool to resolve microclimatic challenges such as climate comfort, pollution/dust/trash, wayfinding and stormwater management. Additional pedestrian crossings and renovation of existing elevated bridges are suggested across the rail to improve connectivity, hereby ensuring a higher level of connectivity and providing more sustainable and healthy options for transport in Svobodny.

Project data
Location ​Svobodny, Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Strategisch masterplan
Size ​224 ha (totale ontwikkeling) 157 ha (bestaand stedelijk gebied)
Design ​2017 -2018
Status ​Uitgevoerd
Team ​Darius Reznek, Ida Pedersen, Jan Willem van Veelen
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Innovation worklandscape De Run

Veldhoven, The Netherlands

Smart and seamlessly through the Innovation Worklandscape of De Run

Business park ‘De Run’ demands a highly ambitious development perspective, due to its complex collection of actors like the Municipality, local initiatives and big players like ASML, MMC hospital, The Dutch Mountains and High Tech Campus Eindhoven. The Innovation Worklandscape De Run integrates work, mobility and public space. Instead of developing in separate aspects of the landscape, the Innovation Worklandscape revolves around the qualities that arise when integrating green, water, public space, mobility, business developments and programming.

The current pressure on parking lots and infrastructure in the area requires a new way of looking at mobility. A smart and seamless network is envisioned across the entire region, including robust connections, mobility hubs and a Smartlane that connects De Run through new ways of transportation.With these interventions we change both the ‘software’ of the network, by using incentives that stimulate other ways of transportation in a soft, rewarding way, aswell as in the ‘hardware’ of the infrastructural landscape. This way, a network is created on various scales that links strategic places with regional connectivity, based on expanding the current connections and removing bottlenecks. The iconic infrastructure contributes to the public image and business climate of De Run and will bring you to your destination in a fast, smart and comfortable way.

The places where the Smartlane interacts with the landscape and businesses, new iconic points appear in the innovation landscape. Through large interventions or small initiatives, these points become the places where sustainability, liveliness, interactions and cross-fertilisation can thrive. A ring of public spaces connects the different parts of De Run. Each public square has a character that reflects the identity of the landscape and the businesses on that location. The public spaces are eminently the places where the integration of all layers of the landscape and the unique character of De Run is celebrated. In addition, green spaces are always close to your workplace, the water system is visibly integrated in the public space design and the infrastructure creates possibilities of saving and generating energy.

Project data
Location ​Veldhoven, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Development perspective and vision on mobility
Size ​200 hectares
Design ​2017 - 2018
Status ​Vision
Client ​Municipality of Veldhoven
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Marit Noest
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Maria Hilf Terraces

Mönchengladbach, Germany

Former hospital area transforms into lively urban neighborhood, accessible for all

karres+brands, in collaboration with Urban Agency and, works to transform the Maria Hilf hospital area into a new residential development. The site is located at the edge of the historical center of the German town Mönchengladbach where the city plans to realize a new neighborhood by 2020. The hospital functions will be abandoned and the site will begin its transformation into a vibrant housing area anchored in the surroundings. Our proposal is defined by a robust urban framework, with terraces of building blocks and a new barrier free path meandering through the site. From being strongly divided by fences and topography, Maria Hilf Terraces will become a vibrant urban neighborhood with strong physical and visual connections to the surrounding urban fabric, providing level free access for all. 

We worked intensely in collaboration with local citizens and stakeholders to develop a future vision for the old hospital site. Today the site is strongly divided by fences, closed perimeter blocks and a height difference of almost 10 meters. The topography is a distinctive feature of Maria Hilf, but at the same time forms an unbridgeable barrier for the elderly and disabled citizens of Mönchengladbach. In the winning master plan we introduce a series of plateaus which spread out the concentrated height difference of the site and mimic the characteristics of the surrounding city. A barrier-free path forms the backbone of the new neighborhood and seamlessly bridges the gap between the lowest and the highest point of the site. It meanders through the site, creating a string of public spaces, which draw upon the DNA of Mönchengladbach opening up to impressive views and strengthening visual connections to important landmarks.

Maria Hilf Terraces is not only a lively urban neighborhood, but is an important new connection in the city. The site links the old town and the Buntergarten to the north and forms the missing puzzle piece in the series of green parks and public spaces running from south to north of the city. By opening up the block and highlighting important pedestrian connections, the master plan strengthens the pedestrian network for the citizens of Mönchengladbach, activates the bordering streets and ensures a complete integration of the new neighborhood into the urban fabric of Mönchengladbach.

The framework of the master plan provides a variety of possibilities for residential typologies; from buildings in the green, apartments overlooking the landscape or the possibility of smaller development groups. As a continuous line through the plan,the urban development mimicsthe DNA of the city, with its colorful variety of facades, a strong defined edge to the outside and an open courtyard with a richness of recesses, extensions and notches, creating an exciting edge zone between the courtyard and the building.The terracing of the site furthermore ensures an optimization of sunlight and views towards the city for the future development and creates comfortable microclimates, protected from the southern winds.

Project data
Location ​Mönchengladbach, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​Masterplan - Transformation of a former hospital area into housing
Size ​5ha, 78.000 m², 700 units
Design ​2017- present
Status ​​competition 1st prize, in progress
Client ​Stadt Mönchengladbach
Team ​Bart Brands, Ida Pedersen, Sander Vedder, Inga Zielonka
In collaboration with ​Urban Agency,
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The Connected City

Oberbillwerder - Hamburg, Germany

Lively and vibrant city of the future connects cultural landscape and inhabitants

Oberbillwerder is one of the largest new urban development in Hamburg in decades, second only to HafenCity. With its proximity to a diverse natural area and culturally significant landscape, it will be an urban area brimming with water and ecological resources. In addition, the area contains an impressive potential to address Hamburg’s pressing housing crisis since it is located a mere 15 minutes from Hamburg inner City,

Throughout history, the landscape DNA of the area transformed from a panoramic marshland between the surrounding rivers into a picturesque drained and cultivated landscape divided into a pixel-like structure created by narrow canals. Over the last century, catalyzed by the railroad, the surrounding areas changed from pure green nature and small villages into a string of new suburban developments rapidly expanding the Hamburg metropolitan area into the situation we see today. This sub-urbanity developed principally in the 1960’s and continued throughout the 80’s and 90’s, leaving the urban tissue as smaller separated urban islands, with each their specific urban concept, housing typologies, water strategies, sports facilities and spatial identity.
The Connected City aims to be a source of inspiration that expands further than Hamburg and sets the agenda for similar sites across the world. A vibrant urban area with unique housing typologies, opportunities for recreation and new economic models. A city rooted in the history and cultural heritage of the landscape. An urban area that avoids transforming into another time capsule isolated island, but one that is focused on bringing cities together, connecting and stimulating. In doing so, it will put forward Hamburg’s second largest district (after HafenCity) as a model of inclusive, affordable, resilient and visionary planning.

The Connected City is fully embedded in the local landscape. It connects to the surrounding landscape through an active green blue network, that continues to grow from it while drawing its unique characteristics from the landscape itself. It follows the inherit linear landscape structure and brings a contrasting historical meandering to enrich it. It places and defines its neighborhoods based on landscape conditions: from low lying water (blue) areas to higher green neighborhoods and puts water at the heart of the city. The Connected City is not only physically connected to its surrounding landscape, it’s an extension of it in every way.

The Connected City stands for integrative development. The existing surrounding urban areas spread into the area, fusing to create more neighborhoods within Oberbillwerder. A simple and clear framework forms the basis of the plan. It is defined by preserving existing qualities of the landscape, such as its linear structure, the abundance of water, as well as the contrasting meandering of the dike. The water system becomes one of the central qualities of the development. A living working landscape machine, buffering and cleaning the water for reuse in a responsible manner, while at the same time providing high living quality for all. Within this base, reservations for infrastructure and green are defined, making landscape and public space the central framework of the development.

The Connected City is the healthy city of the future that places public spaces at its forefront. The Green Loop is the main feature of the public space network. It connects the neighborhoods with all major social infrastructure through a green artery that merges water, sports, play and city. The Green Loop will be a new form of urban landscape infrastructure prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Next to The Green Loop, a network of Neighborhood Squares offers intimate, small scale places for community life while bringing together new forms of mobility, local services and culture. 

By means of this flexible framework, a mosaic of neighborhoods and qualities are formed. They draw their identities from the surrounding landscape to create a robust landscape living experience. Water retention and climate proofing is fundamentally embedded in each neighborhood and gives each its own identity. It creates different characters and opportunities locally. The streets therefore handle water in various ways; for example, in the low-lying blue area there are wider canals while in the green area large green bioswales and narrow blue streams dominate the structure. These distinctive landscape conditions stimulate unique identities in each neighborhood. They are all starting points for developing individual housing typologies and possible collective facilities from three floor canal row houses with platforms floating on the water to collective aquaponics to sustainable urban living.

The general purpose of our programmatic strategy is to promote intensification, interaction and mixture. The urban areas are organized with a clear public space hierarchy so that future inhabitants can meet in a wide range of environments from the urban district center plaza and green boulevard, along the Green-Blue Arteries natural spaces, in organized and flexible sport zones of the parks in the green loop, well-defined unique neighborhood squares, temporary pockets and joker hide-outs; experiences reaching out to everyone while embracing a variety of interests. It is a new city typology; it is a blend of nature and city mixed together to create multiple hybrids and distinctive housing typologies. 

In The Connected City mobility is greater than Infrastructure. It is an ecosystem. It combines its own unique mobility concept with flexible infrastructure and innovative technologies. The Connected City will be an icon for the future of mobility.  It anticipates the electrical and driverless revolution and puts forward a city that is ready to take back the streets. The Connected City blends a unique system of mobility hubs stimulating transfer between car, public transport, or bicycle. They are integrated in neighborhood centers as active elements of the city life, where small businesses, ateliers, warehouses, post etc. are mixed with parking. These buildings will be the batteries of the neighborhoods; producing and storing energy and, as car demand will decrease, they can evolve into new structures combining cultural programs, work, living, and parking for new modes of transport. 

The Connected City is the performative city of the future. It is the largest European development to be pre-certified with the DGNB Platinum certification. It does not see sustainability as simple energy production and saving but a complex ecosystem that intertwines energy with water, green, mobility and social life of the city. Each flow in the city is complemented by the other. Nothing is left to chance or wasted in The Connected City. Streets and planting are oriented to ensure ideal climatic comfort, blocks are optimized to maximize solar orientation and PV efficiency, water and green become part of the DNA of the city while the mobility will generate and save energy instead of consuming. The city draws its unique ecosystem from the exchanges of flows. On top of that, The Connected City will showcase a state of the art sustainability and innovation in pilot projects and become areas for experimentation. 

Project data
Location ​Oberbillwerder - Hamburg, Germany Google Maps
Assignment ​mixed-use masterplan
Size ​360 ha / 124 ha / 1.000.000 GFA / 7000 houses, 5000 workplaces
Design ​2018 - now
Status ​Competition 1st prize
Client ​Hamburg Stadt, IBA Hamburg
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Paola Salviano de Souza, Ken Spangberg, Inga Zielonka, Pilar Balat, Davor Dusanic, Justyna Chmielewska, Volker Lescow
In collaboration with ​ADEPT, Transsolar, Büro Happold, Kraft
Copyright images ​ADEPT, Karres en brands, Doug & Wolf (aerial)
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Vivaldi Rooftop Park

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A green oasis in the heart of Amsterdam Zuid

The Vivaldi Rooftop Park on top of the Breevast headquarters in Amsterdam was designed by karres+brands in collaboration with the green roof specialists at Dakdokters. Together, we transformed a dull, inaccessible gravel rooftop into a colourful, inviting rooftop park. At approximately 2000m2, it is one of the largest rooftop parks in Amsterdam Zuid.

karres+brands was responsible for the project’s design and landscaping plan, whereas Dakdokters supported its technical development, architectural testing and the implementation of Polder Roof® technology into the design. This ingenious green roof system collects and stores rainwater to be used for rooftop plants, and any surplus water can be gradually phased into the rainwater drainage system.

Another important design feature is the roof’s 150-meter-long path, whose varying widths give way to spacious areas where people can gather and relax. Designed to take full advantage of the sun, these areas provide users with outdoor meeting areas and a place where office workers can enjoy a little stroll and a breath of fresh air. The choice of plants also plays an important role in the park’s design. Ornamental grasses are interspersed among blue-grey perennials, ensuring a rich variety of colour and texture. The seasonal characteristics and staggered flowering periods of the various plants highlight the four seasons, so users can enjoy the roof year-round. Through the creative management of substrate thickness, we were able to integrate a diverse array of plants and even create space for several trees. Certain plants have been specifically chosen to attract bees and other insects. Thanks to the Polder Roof® system, the rooftop garden stays green even in the driest of seasons: a lush oasis in the busy, concrete-intensive environment of Amsterdam Zuid.

The Vivaldi Rooftop Park was opened on 13 July 2017 by Alderperson Abdeluheb Choho, who enthusiastically installed a bee hotel. Not only does the project provide an attractive outdoor space for office employees, it also contributes to the sustainable development of a greener living environment and the preservation of the ecosystem. 

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design rooftop park
Size ​2000 m2
Design ​2017
Construction ​2017
Status ​Realised
Client ​Breevast
Budget ​€220,000
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Uta Krause, Jeroen Hoogenraad, Joost de Natris
In collaboration with ​De Dakdokters
Copyright images ​De Dakdokters
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Reinforcing the IJsseldijk in Krimpenerwaard (Project KIJK)

Krimpenerwaard, Netherlands

Spatial integration plan for Project KIJK

In 2011, a large portion of the Hollandsche IJsseldijk on the Krimpenerwaard side failed a macro stability inspection of its inner side, which was carried out as part of the national High Water Protection Programme. It was thus concluded that if we don’t take action, the dyke may eventually shift toward the polder. Reinforcing this 10-km dyke is a complex project due to the numerous structures and monumental buildings along it and the fact that the dyke forms an important connection for cars, bikes and cargo transport. Thus, the District Water Control Board of Schieland and Krimpenerwaard has hired karres+brands and Wageningen Environmental Research to develop a spatial vision for the project.

Realizing spatial quality in such a large and complex dyke reinforcement project is no small task. It is important to start with a simple, robust framework that will remain in place throughout the often turbulent processes of planning and implementation. In a project like KIJK, creating large-scale spatial quality is primarily a question of preserving both urban and rural structures and systems. Therefore, our spatial integration plan aims to logically integrate the landscape and village environment into a design that radiates beauty and simplicity. On a smaller scale, creating spatial quality is a question of devising solutions and connecting old and new elements.

First and foremost, the vision identifies the current spatial characteristics. These characteristics are visible on different scales: from the greater dyke landscape and the urban elements along the dyke to typical spatial ensembles and individual elements on the dyke. As a starting point for the spatial vision map, we considered these characteristics in light of the following principles:

1. The current dyke constitutes a recognisable and continuous landscape element, which should remain unchanged.
The dyke should always be recognisable as one continuous element. However, due to the many buildings on and along it, the dyke is not an autonomous element in its environment. Therefore, the top of the dyke will have a basic layout with a standard road profile. This unified approach to road design will contribute to the recognisability and continuity of the dyke. Outside this profile, the dyke will add character to its surroundings.

2. The dyke’s urban planning characteristics help determine the solutions for its reinforcement.
There are several urban planning units to be designated along the dyke, namely the green dyke line, industrial clusters, residentials clusters outside the dyke (e.g. Krimpen aan den IJssel) and the village centre. Strengthening the distinction between various urban planning units serves as a point of departure for the project vision. In order to achieve this distinction, the solutions proposed for the dyke reinforcement need be aligned with the area’s urban planning characteristics.

3. The dyke is a dividing line between two landscapes.
The dyke forms a sharp divide between the Krimpenerwaard landscape on one side and the Hollandsche IJssel on the other side. Through the integration of the dyke reinforcement project, the goal is to maintain the distinction between the two sides by preserving—and where possible, reinforcing—the landscape’s characteristics on both sides of the dyke. These characteristics include panoramic views, water-related industries and Krimpenerwaard’s water system.

4. Special consideration for a number of ‘custom’ locations.
Continuity is important for ensuring that the dyke is recognisable as a super-local structure and oriented in the landscape. At the local level, however, there are certain special cases along the dyke—e.g. monumental buildings and characteristic farms—that need to be accommodated. Therefore, while our plan aims create overall continuity, it also makes loving exceptions for these details and proposes custom solutions.

This spatial vision, among other factors, will serve as a basis for selecting the preferred dyke reinforcement method and exploring opportunities for its integration. Eventually, it will be developed into a broader spatial integration process.

Project data
Location ​Krimpenerwaard, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Create spatial vision and integration plan for the reinforcement of the Hollandsche IJsseldijk between Gouderak and Krimpen aan de IJssel
Size ​approx. 10 km
Design ​2017
Construction ​Starting in 2021
Status ​Spatial integration plan underway
Client ​The District Water Control Board of Schieland and Krimpenerwaard
Team ​Sylvia Karres, David Kloet, Jonas Papenborg, Marit Noest
In collaboration with ​Wageningen Environmental Research (WER)
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Former prison Bijlmer Bajes: Vreiland

Amsterdam, Netherlands

An inclusive neighbourhood where there is always something to experience

In 2017, Karres en Brands was part of one of five teams selected for the redevelopment of the former penitentiary complex in Overamstel. In our proposal, submitted with fellow team members Round Hill Capital, Paul de Ruiter Architects, Rijnboutt and ABT, the cultural history of the Bijlmerbajes complex is absolutely essential to the future neighbourhood’s identity. A nod to the prison’s history, the area remains recognizable as an enclave. Our design maintains the profile of the six towers and reinforces the enclave with a construction proposal that seeks edges and intensifies corners.

The Bijmerbajes are is situated within the second phase of the Overamstel transformation project. The area is in a desirable location within Amsterdam’s peripheral ring and centrally positioned between the city’s three main urban hubs: Amsterdam centre, Amsterdam Zuid and Zuidoost centre. The starting point for the Amstel Quarter is to create a highly urban living environment: highly dense, compactly constructed and multi-functional. According to the plan, the building blocks will border both quiet interior streets and the future Amstelstroomlaan, a major city boulevard. Vreiland is a car-free neighbourhood where residents can walk, bike and play in the streets, a place where they can enjoy leisure activities like table tennis, sports, reading and more. Our design offers the space and conditions for residents to decide for themselves how they want to use their streets. In addition to the centrally located boulevard and squares, which are designed as shared spaces for bikers and pedestrians, the public space proposes typological variety. Common courtyards are connected via informal walking paths, creating intimacy in the residential environment.

The neighbourhood is born of expanding human needs in the city. Rather than seeing the past as dead weight, our design treats it as an incentive for creating maximum quality of life. Instead of a traditional image quality plan, Vreiland has a living quality plan, which includes guidelines for enjoyable living, green outdoor spaces, healthy mobility, conscious living, social quality and development. A crucial aspect of the design is the preservation of the prison complex’s ‘silhouette’, maintaining its six iconic towers as a reminder of the past. The towers, each 60 metres tall, are built on a foundation of three to five layers. For the sake of their ground-level experience, the towers face the central axis. Minimal shifting maximises the view from the towers and vice versa.

To contrast to the high density of buildings, an expansive public space provides plenty of green. This public space is the binding element in the urban development strategy: the edges define the enclave (like a moat) with the former warden village and various urban areas along the central axis. The diagonal positioning of the public and private space is maintained in a dominant rectangular composition, an echo of the past in terms of size and scale. Another binding element in the urban development strategy is the network of telephone poles. The street known as the ‘Kalverstraat’ defines a series of diverse, mutually bound urban spaces. Together with the strong sequence of semi-public spaces along the axis, they function as a membrane, weaving together a mosaic of gardens. The end of the ‘Kalverstraat’ is marked by a the main building, which has been preserved.

Through the combination of various living typologies, Vreiland becomes a place for everyone from students and starters to families and seniors, offering a variety of free sector and social housing for sale and rent. Vreiland offers a unique environment that is all at once highly urban and car-free, a place where residents feel safe on the streets and children can play carefree. An intricate network of green outdoor space invites users to move and explore.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Redevelopment of a former penitentiary in Over-Amstel
Size ​7.5 hectares / 135,000 m² GFA
Design ​2017
Status ​Competition entry, finalist
Client ​Consortium Round Hill Capital
Team ​David Kloet, Justyna Chmielewska, Sander Vedder, Olya Panchovska
In collaboration with ​Stadium Capital Partners, Vivo Development, bbn adviseurs, Paul de Ruiter Architects, Rijnboutt, ABT, DWa, MOOi lost op
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Triangle de Gonesse – Paris, France

Interaction between building and environment offers new possibilities for work, recreation and nature

Triango is the winning proposal for a new type of office area, one that is lively and diverse, functional, but at the same time, ambitious and experimentalwhere sustainability is promoted in every sense of the word. Not only is Triango an anchor in the development of the Triangle de Gonesse, it also serves as a reference for the type of office area we aim to create. Through the combination of nature, sport and work, Triango generates a new range of possibilities, creating space for the known, new and unexpected.

Triango is our vision for a new way of working: an office area that is not defined by iconic buildings but rather by high-quality public space. The interaction between buildings and environment offers new possibilities for work, sport, recreation, and of course, nature. Just as natural elements are defined by their links with different molecules, the park is strengthened by its public space and inter-building connections. Rather than fighting iconic architecture, Triango seeks synergy. Triango — a subtle icon.

The masterplan is structured along a very robust framework that articulates the edges of the site around a lush green central park. The membrane of buildings reacts to unique site qualities and defines 3 characteristic zones: The urban zone, is a compact strip, where, transparent, active, ground floors and open public spaces, consisting of gardens and green atriums, create a lively urban character. At the centre of the urban zone is a large production greenhouse which will provide energy-neutral food and ingredientsused in the products of the companies working in the area and for small local shops and restaurants. The organic zone, takes advantage of the south orientation to the seamlessly connect with the green. The park connects on different levels with the buildings and form innovative outdoor areas for new ways of work and recreation, such as tribunes for watching the ongoing sport activities, a climbing wall along the building facade, plateaus towards the water and an outdoor conference/lecture atrium. 

The landmark zone runs along the highway and forms a striking façade towards the A1. It acts as an iconic landmark, seen by the many motorists passing by every day. At night a large production greenhouse on the roof, illuminated from inside, acts as a lighthouse, seen from afar. 

A metaphor for natural systems, the spine is the main route through the area. It connects the outlying areas with all important destinations in the park, establishing an office–park relationship through the creation of unique, dynamic spaces. It also functions as a membrane between building and park, indoor and outdoor, the “parc sportif” and the neighbouring developments. The spine also serves as a “docking station” for the various buildings. It ensures interaction and links people and organisations, thereby stimulating and fueling economic activity on site. 

Triango is a working landscape machine with an integrated natural water system. Not only will water be buffered and filtered on site, it will also be purified for consumption. All in all, the system offers high-quality space for sports and ecology, inviting users to stay and enjoy. Triango is also an example of water retention and climate proofing. The existing typology is used to determine water flow and define gathering spaces. The central water purification machine is located directly on the urban strip, where passersby can experience the green-blue system and all it has to offer.

Project data
Location ​Triangle de Gonesse – Paris, France Google Maps
Assignment ​Design sustainable business park
Size ​15 hectares / 167,000 m² GFA
Design ​2017
Status ​Won competition, In progress
Client ​BoPro
Team ​Darius Reznek, Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Ida Pedersen, Olya Panchovska, Davor Dusanic
In collaboration with ​RAU architects, SeArch, Lateral Thinking Factory, SQA, Urban Crop Solutions, Phileas, Building Integrated Greenhouses, Evergreen
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Tallinn Master Plan 2030

Tallinn, Estonia

Third space: landscape infrastructure as development strategy

In collaboration with Terroir architects, karres+brands developed a master plan for the old city harbor of Tallinn. The Port of Tallinn selected a total of six teams to take part in this ambitious international competition, aiming to reconnect the harbor to the city center and provide a better infrastructural solution for the many different functions that the harbor will hold in the future. The competition provided a unique opportunity to define a completely new type of urban precinct at the gates of Tallinn, to rethink the notion of city harbor and set the benchmark for similar sites in the world.

Across the years, Tallinn has had an ever changing relationship with its harbor and the waters. The rough, industrial edges of the harbor remained closed to the public for a long time and today, heavy infrastructure is dominating the main entrance to Tallinn. The city and its harbor have turned their backs to each other and the desolate space in-between them, leave the many cruise tourists who arrive daily, with a poor first impression of the city. By introducing a new bridge between the two terminals we can break the infrastructural barrier between city and harbour and efficiently solve harbour flows. City and harbour are once again connected and create a significant and iconic entrance to Tallinn: Third Space.

The new connection will be the ultimate synergy between infrastructure, city space and nature, impacting the entire coastline of Tallinn. Rising between the two terminals it will facilitate car loading flows alongside a public elevated park. Underneath, the spaces created will define new entrance plazas to the terminals and protected spaces for functions and tourist flows, providing a whole new entrance experience to the city.

The Third Space meanders through the site from east to west to create a completely new type of Waterfront Park. It will facilitate movement for both leisure and harbor related flows and mediate the relationship between the hard functional harbor and soft city life. A porous membrane of public spaces will reconnect the harbor, open up opportunities for new neighbourhoods and office space and guide pedestrian flows towards the city. It will be an ever-changing mosaic of public spaces and new program, that draw upon the identity of their surroundings.

The green/blue spine does not only link some of the most important cultural and public features of the city, but also reconnects Tallinn and its residents to the water and unlocks the potential for future development around the old city center and harbor. Lush green wetlands will buffer and clean the water. Meandering from east to west the new park will reconnect the entire northern coastline, a rich public coastline, which is today fragmented by the infrastructure of the harbor. It will boost the transformation of the harbor precinct of Tallinn and reveals a unique entrance gateway into Tallinn, where harbor and city grow side by side.

Project data
Location ​Tallinn, Estonia Google Maps
Assignment ​Master Plan Old City Harbor
Size ​54 hectares
Construction ​2017
Status ​Competition entry
Client ​Port of Tallinn
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Ida Pedersen, Paola Salviano de Souza, Olya Panchovska, Crispijn van Sas
In collaboration with ​TERROIR, BuroHappold
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Feringa Building

Groningen, Netherlands

Hidden gardens in a new faculty building

On the University Grounds of Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) the Feringa Building, a new faculty building for the Faculty of Math and Sciences, named after Nobel prize winner prof. dr. B.L. Feringa, will be built. The building will be 62.000m² large en will facilitate college rooms, institutes and labs in which fundamental scientific research will be conducted. The building is organized around four court yards for which Karres en Brands drew the designs.

Because of the location and organization of the building a public walking route from the public transport hub to the campus is situated in the main axis of the building. The four court yards are an integral part of the spatial setup of the building: they’re visible from all college rooms, labs and offices spaces. All users of the building can see the gardens and the people who are in the gardens. However, the entries to the gardens are hidden: how to access them remains unclear. This tension is the starting point for the designs. When one steps into the gardens they appear to have hidden qualities that aren’t visible from the outside.

In the building fundamental research and experiments are conducted in high tech labs. The sharply designed aluminum façade emphasizes the scientific character of the building. The court yards from a stark contrast with the rationality of the building. The gardens offer an alternative to rhetorical and cognitive activities and appeal to various sensory perceptions. They offer a tranquil environment in which one can take a distance to the rationality an intensity of their work or studies. Each garden has its own characteristics: gardens with a hidden view, a hidden experience, and a hidden place each offer a different context and a different perception. The diversity of the gardens contributes to the means for orienting throughout the complex building and offers a calming decor for the working spaces.

The garden with a hidden view has a finely composed composition of plants, a pond, cypresses, foreground and background, depth and light. The composition is visible only from one specific view point. A wooden deck at the pond side offers seating to view this composition.

At first glance the garden with hidden experiences just seems to have an abundance of trees, shrubs and plants. When stepping into the garden one is immersed in the foliage and textures, scents, colors, light and shadows, ruffling leaves, tree canopies above and tiny flowers that grow hidden below the leaves of bigger plants.

The garden with the hidden place consists of a large hill covered in ferns an pine trees. Behind the tip of the hill a cavity is dug out from the hill. The space is barely visible from outside. Narrow steps lead down through the ferns to this hidden space. Her one is surrounded by the abundance of the ferns around and the silhouettes of the pine trees against the sky.

The campus garden is the only garden that does have a clearly visible entrance and also has a more frequent use. Through the glass facades this garden is visible from the surrounding campus and vice versa. With an open grass field and various trees the campus landscape is encompassed into the volume of the building. Terraces for drinks, and special occasions, are designed as a graphic composition of surfaces with fracture lines, folds and cuts. 

Project data
Location ​Groningen, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design four courtyards in a new faculty building
Size ​2.275 m²
Design ​2016
Construction ​2019 – present
Status ​Definitive Design
Client ​University of Groningen
Team ​Bart Brands, Joost de Natris, Sander Vedder, Jeroen Hoogenraad, Thomas Wolfert
In collaboration with ​Ector Hoogstad Architects
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Zwolle Station Area

Zwolle, Netherlands

From a peripheral location to a valuable position

Zwolle Station is the most important rail hub in the northeast Netherlands, with rail lines extending in eight directions. Combined with a 24-stop bus station, Zwolle Station is the heart of the regional public transportation network. Located between Hanzeland and the city centre, the station functions as a pivot point in Zwolle’s spatial-economic development.


Led by Karres en Brands, a design team was formed to draft a development perspective. The team consists of municipal designers and traffic experts, complemented by external designers with specific expertise: Movares for underground bike parking and passerelle, Team V for the station’s entrances, including the roof installations, and Poelmans Reesink for segments of the public space. This team worked intensively on the various tasks, frequently discussing and testing plans with the NS, ProRail and the province.

Consisting of a vision component (assignment, vision and strategy) and an execution component (phases and project segments), the development perspective provides a final vision for the station area. The current building projects are cohesively integrated into the main structure of the station square, which was introduced by Karres en Brands. The underground bike parking, bus bridge, bus station, and renovations to the station square, Oosterlaan, Westerlaan and Stationsweg, Hanzelaan and passerelle, as well as the widening of the platforms, will all be carried out in a single, coherent spatial framework. This station area upgrade will serve as an essential catalyst in the area’s development process. The development perspective also includes ambitions and suggestions for urbanization, climate adaptation, energy transition, and new strategies for mobility and parking.

Project data
Location ​Zwolle, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Rail zone master plan
Size ​10 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Construction ​2017 – 2030
Status ​Development perspective has been approved by the City Council
Client ​Municipality of Zwolle
Team ​Bart Brands, Jasper Nijveldt, Crispijn van Sas
In collaboration with ​Team V, NS, ProRail, Movares, Poelmans Reesink
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Community Campus Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A shared oasis in a transforming office park

One thousand five hundred new apartments for students and starters are going to be built in Amsterdam Southeast near the Holendrecht train station and the AMC. The apartments, designed by OZ architects, are spread out across three buildings, signaling a strategic change in Amsterdam Southeast’s business and office zone. Karres en Brands has designed an informal campus landscape that connects the apartment buildings and provides an attractive shared living environment.

With architectural features extending 60 metres high, the buildings form a semi-enclosed building block with its own inner world. The sheltered space is accessible via four entrances and the informal area is visible from the outside. The landscape’s hilly inclinations give the location its own identity. The gentle inclines provide scale to the space and reconcile the height variations between the existing waterway and a partially underground parking garage. Lawns, grassy vegetation and clustered trees create an attractive and varied landscape in which the new residents can enjoy sports, relaxation, recreation and other activities.Walking and biking paths meander through the landscape and connect the buildings, facilities and future pavilion to the surrounding environment. 

The path network includes biking routes, bridges, walking and wandering trails, and foot paths designed for intensive use. The most important routes are paved in uniquely textured concrete mixed on site. Semi-paved paths form secondary routes and gathering spots in the landscape. Grass paths can be mowed in a different formation each year, constantly creating a new perception of the area. Three new bridges follow the height variations of the undulating pathways and connect them to the parts of the plan on the other side of the water.

The landscape’s facilities are designed with young residents in mind. In addition to open spaces, the area allows for the organisation of personal activities. Barbecues, hammocks, basketball hoops, sport netting and a climbing wall will be installed. The campus landscape invites users to meet, exercise and relax, and the residents have the space to use the landscape as a shared garden.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design campus’s outdoor landscape
Size ​3.5 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Construction ​2018 - 2019
Status ​Tentative design
Client ​Blauwhoed BV
Team ​Bart Brands, Joost de Natris, Jasper Nijveldt, Joep Meijer, Marlena Rether.
In collaboration with ​OZ Architects
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Birzhevaya Square

Moscow, Russian Federation

A new public space gem at the heart of Moscow

As a part of a larger strategy to turn inner Moscow pedestrian, karres+brands was asked to transform Birzhevaya Square, in collaboration with Strelka KB. The square is located in the historic center of Moscow, a few hundred meters from the historical Red Square, and new Zaryadye Park. What at the end of the 18th century was the center of trade and financial activity is today largely dominated by cars at the main entry point to the Stock Exchange. At the same time the surrounding buildings are rich in detail and colorful eclectic architecture contrasting the current state of the public space. The transformation aims to exploit the high potentials of the site and create a unique public space at the heart of Moscow.

To clearly mark the presence of the square we introduced a carpet-like paving, which helps define and give identity to the place. The pattern is a reinterpretation of classical plaza motifs and is meant to communicate with, and reveal, the rich architectural context. Central to our design is a special water element at the intersection between the plaza border and its urban context. This will become a magnet for public life and be the symbol of the new public space. 

The pavement of the square consists of two shades of granite, one light grey color for the overall area of the square and a darker tone for the stripes. At the same time there is a further rich differentiation through the introduction of rough and smooth surfaces. Together this will underline the graphical impression of a woven wicker, a term that initially gave the area its name - Kitay Gorod. The different surfaces on the square will react with the changing weather conditions, and add another layer to the subtle changes of the public space over the day and the year. 

The fountain has been positioned with important view lines, sun direction and proportions in mind. It is located in the sunniest spot and marks the presence of the square from the adjoining streets. Through the vertical rotation of its core, it not only defines various spaces, but also diverse experience of water. Towards the street it raises to create a protective edge and mark the presence of the square, while towards the plaza and sunny side it defines gentle slopes where people can sit and enjoy the water. The fountain changes through the seasons. In hot summer days a film of water can flow down the slope into the pond. This thin layer can be a refreshing play element in hot days and provides not only a cooling effect but also a soothing sound experience. At special occasions the fountain can be drained and used for events and performances, where the slope will become functional as a sitting tribune. 

Through an intensive design process we have developed a rich and rigorous detailing of the fountain. Its ever-changing edge, has been carefully cut in 200 unique pieces. The base of the fountain is covered in an intricate pattern which intersects the edge, to create a public space element worthy of its architectural context. A new, subtle, symbol for Moscow’s public spaces.

Project data
Location ​Moscow, Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Design public space and water feature
Size ​0.3 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Construction ​2017 – 2018
Status ​In progress
Client ​Moscow Municipality, Strelka KB
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Sander Vedder, Ida Pedersen, Justyna Chmielewska, Inga Zielonka
In collaboration with ​Strelka KB
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A1 Motorway Apeldoorn-Zuid – Beekbergen

Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Based on the landscape

The Rijkswaterstaat has taken measures to improve accessibility and circulation on the A1 motorway between Apeldoorn-Zuid and the Beekbergen interchange. This involves the constructing weaving lanes between Apeldoorn-Zuid and Beekbergen on the A1, adjusting the Deventer-Arnhem connector in the Beekbergen interchange, and improving the A50 connecting lane between Beekbergen and the De Brink rest area. These measures should ensure that traffic jams on this route are reduced to a minimum by 2020. karres+brands was responsible for landscape integration and also played an advisory role in the design, materialisation and detailing of the new connecting road and existing structural works.

The landscape integration is specifically oriented towards the overall spatial quality of the motorway landscape. Part of the A50 motorway will be widened to make room for the construction of an extra lane on the western side. This construction will preserve the wide green verges in the middle and on the outer sides of the motorway. For through traffic from Deventer to Arnhem, the cloverleaf interchange will be replaced by a new connector with an A50 crossover. This new connector, with its flowing arch, will be integrated into the landscape. Just like the existing structural works, the new works will be neatly joined to the green banks. Furthermore, the connector design will be based on the same principles as those used by Maten for the existing structural works, thus creating a peaceful, cohesive image.

Additionally, weaving lanes will be constructed on the A1 motorway. Due to this construction, the bank on the south side of the A1 will be partially modified. Here, the bank will be constructed at a sharp angle, allowing the view over the IJssel Valley and Veluwe Massif to remain unchanged.

In addition to landscape integration, karres+brands also played a vital role in the project, functioning as a go-to resource for stakeholders (e.g. the Municipality of Apeldoorn, Commission for Spatial Quality) for both the landscape and architectonic designs during the development and realisation phases of the project.

Project data
Location ​Apeldoorn, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Landscape integration adjustments for A1 Apeldoorn-Zuid and the Beekbergen interchange
Size ​6.7 kilometers
Design ​2016
Construction ​2016 – 2018
Status ​In progress
Client ​Heijmans Infra B.V.
Team ​Bart Brands, Jeroen Matthijssen, Marlena Rether
In collaboration with ​Wagemaker
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Amsterdam, Netherlands

The performative street

ING plans to create a new head office at the Frankemaheerd location in Amsterdam Zuidoost. ING’s ambitions, however, extend far beyond building a new head office. To develop into a city campus, not only should an investment be made in buildings but also in the development of the public space. ING aims to work together with the Municipality of Amsterdam to improve the quality of an area that has the potential to become a city campus and an integral part of the ArenAPoort region. In particular, the current layout of the Bijlmerdreef and the connection to the Bijlmer ArenA station are in need of a major facelift. At present, the layout is characterised by asphalt, concrete tiles and hardly any green. 

Karres en Brands has been commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam and ING to create a sketch plan for Bijlmerdreef as a first exploration of the possibilities for improving the public space. ING and the Municipality share a common goal of transforming the Bijlmerdreef into an attractive, inviting and sustainable street – a street with its own identity. Nevertheless, making a great street takes more than a distinctive, functional design with good material choices.

To cope with the consequences of climate change, the street of the future needs to be equipped differently. It should be able to buffer, infiltrate and maybe even recycle water. These capacities also allow Bijlmerdreef to contribute to the targets set by “Amsterdam Rainproof”. The street of the future will play a role in the city’s metabolism by coupling energy flows, using residual heat, and increasing – maybe even producing – energy. The street of the future is made of recycled and CO2-neutral materials and could even have the potential to leave a negative CO2 footprint. Above all, the street of the future is smart. It is equipped with new ways of facilitating mobility and adapting to smart lighting systems. The street of the future is adaptive, able to react to how we use it.

With this ambition in mind, Karres en Brands takes a systematic approach to implementing energy and climate goals into the public space design. Key to this approach is linking the energy triad (coupling, intelligent use and energy flow productivity) with location qualities and stakeholders. A step-by-step approach examines the ambitions and opportunities for all stakeholders and translates them into achievable goals and concrete solutions (water, green, energy, materials).

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design sustainable and climate adaptive street
Size ​5.1 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Client ​Municipality of Amsterdam, ING Groep N.V.
Team ​Bart Brands, Joost de Natris, Jasper Nijveldt, Darius Reznek, Sander Vedder, Jeroen Hoogenraad, Inga Zielonka
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TU Delft Campus Furniture

Delft, Netherlands

TU Delft Living Campus Furniture

Since 2012, karres+brands has been involved in the redevelopment of the TU Delft university campus. In addition to providing a landscape and urban development vision, a public space Toolbox and a design for the Kluyver Park, karres+brands has designed furniture specifically for the TU Delft.

Public spaces on university campuses have an entire dynamic of their own. These areas are used for studying, working, discussing and taking breaks. Sometimes they are occupied by a single person, other times by large groups of people. The layout of the campus’ public space stimulates informal debate; it allows visions take shape and interactions between those studying and working occur. Such areas require a specific approach to the implementation of street furniture. karres+brands has designed a family of benches, plateau seating and tables. Six to ten metres long, the benches are robust objects that invite one to relax, take a break, work, sun bathe, eat lunch, discuss and of course, study.

The benches are designed for wear and tear. The various types are composed of modular elements of which certain parts are easily interchangeable and simple to maintain. Their large format makes them recognizable and structured in the layout of squares, entrance areas and parks. By combining the objects, one can quickly create areas that serve as meeting points on campus. Through its distinctive design, the furniture contributes to the recognisability and identity of the TU Delft’s public space. Karres en Brands designed the product family and supported the technical engineering, procurement and implementation.

Project data
Location ​Delft, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design campus furniture
Design ​2016
Construction ​2016
Status ​Realised
Client ​Delft University of Technology / FMVG
Team ​Bart Brands, Joost de Natris, Kasper Neeleman, Clemens Carlhuber
In collaboration with ​Rots Maatwerk
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Antwerp South Junction

Antwerp, Belgium

Designing a pastoral motorway landscape

Based on the Green Singel image quality plan that had already been drawn up, karres+brands worked together with Maxwan and Antea Group to create an area analysis and draft design for Antwerp’s South Junction. Located to the south of the highway ring, South Junction, also known as the “spaghetti junction”, connects the R1 with the A12 and the Leien. With its many raised entry and exit ramps, the South Junction currently occupies a large open space on the Antwerp city map. Advancements in safety, regulation, environmental protection and urban development call for a reinterpretation of the South Junction and its spatial integration.

Numerous plans are underway in bordering areas that will influence the traffic junction’s future use. Short- and long-term plans include the implementation of the New South Master Plan, Blue Gate Antwerp, the re-structuring of the Emiel Vloorstraat site, the Kaaien renovation and the start of other small projects.

The area analysis establishes how the South Junction landscape can function as a hinge point where all developments come together and connect. Not only in terms of mobility, but also from a spatial, ecological and landscape perspective, the goal is to situate the various developments in a larger framework that can be adapted as necessary.

The design focuses on the accessibility and usability of the South Junction’s roadside landscape, and, in particular, to the recognisability of the river dune landscape within the Green Singel. Bridges and viaducts branching off the reconstruction serve as crossings for bicycles, pedestrians and wildlife, thus increasing the South Junction’s recreational and ecological connectivity. On the urban side, the New South’s Wadi Park will be connected to Konijnenwei via an iconic park bridge, creating a new continuous park area that can relieve the recreational pressure built up in the city centre. In addition to event and park space, South Junction will also provide a buffer for water collection, particulate matter and noise from the city centre and motorway.

The arid, relief-rich landscape of the river dunes provides a recognizable layout for South Junction. The recognisability is also enhanced by striking accent plants and the design of a new, 21-metre high dune that forms the final piece of the Green Singel. The edges of South Junction are predominantly planted with gorse bushes. In the spring, they burst into bloom with exuberant yellow flowers, “lighting up” the South Junction once a year. The bushes also attract insects such as bees and butterflies. What’s more, by strategically placing follies, benches and vistas in the landscape, South Junction is transformed into a unique destination for hikers and adventurers looking to explore the roadside landscape.

Project data
Location ​Antwerp, Belgium Google Maps
Assignment ​Draft design for landscape, infrastructure and ecology
Size ​80 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Status ​Draft design
Client ​AG VESPA Antwerp
Team ​Sylvia Karres, David Kloet, Jonas Papenborg, Marlena Rether
In collaboration with ​TV MAKH: Maxwan, Antea Group and karres+brands
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Schuytgraaf Riethorst and Leyhorst

Arnhem, Netherlands

Living on a green island

Schuytgraaf is a Vinex-location based on an urban plan by KCAP with approximately 6,100 homes. Schuytgraaf is characterised by building sites that fall within a framework of greenery and water. Because the sites are relatively compact, there is significant space left over for the framework, which incorporates park, nature and recreational functions. The building sites themselves are divided into three types based on the number of houses per hectare. karres+brands created the urban plan for the Riethorst and Leyhorst sites, both of which fall into the lowest housing density category and are laid out according to a villa-district concept.

The sites are located in the ecological zone that makes up the majority of Schuytgraaf’s western border and part of the green framework. In the past, the course of the Rhine river ran through this area. Today, it is characteristically damp and inaccessible to the public. Raised above the ecological zone, the building sites are like islands in their environment. The design focuses heavily on the sites’ edges, which will remain green and development free.

The starting point for the plan is to maximise the green landscape’s character and use as little paving as possible, in contrast to the more urban and stone sites nearby. It was decided during the planning process to give each site its own identity, which is mostly determined by the architecture. A classical theme was chosen for Riethorst and for Leyhorst, a modern one.

Both sites have a striking green character with no through traffic. The quiet streets are lined with grass instead of sidewalks. In addition, each plot has two private parking spaces on site, thus reducing the number of parked cars in the outdoor space. The grassy roadsides expand at some points making room for large trees. The roadside also contains a drainage system of green, shallow ditches that drain rainwater (soil passages). At the end of several streets is a view through the ecological zone. Beech hedges are planted on the lot boundaries along the public property and are maintained by the residents themselves. The municipality maintains the slope-side and top of the hedge running along the site’s outer rim, bordering the ecological zone.

Nevertheless, the most significant contribution to the sites’ green character is the arrangement of individual gardens. The staggered housing blocks and the prescribed positions of garages and driveways offer a variety of garden spaces and ensure a coherent image.

Project data
Location ​Arnhem, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design urban plan, visual quality plan and supervision
Size ​6 hectares
Design ​2006 – 2010
Construction ​2010 – 2016
Status ​Realised
Client ​GEM Schuytgraaf Beheer BV
Team ​Sylvia Karres, Bart Brands, Jeroen Marseille, Paul Portheine
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Technopolis Bridges

Delft, The Netherlands

Smart bridges highlight the orthogonal landscape

The Science Park Technopolis was developed southeast of Delft as part of the ambitious Science Port Holland. Science Park Technopolis is a business park that focuses on research and development, in close cooperation with the Delft University of Technology, with the goal of becoming one of the most important knowledge hubs in Europe. This means that Technopolis uses the existing facilities and infrastructure between Rotterdam, Rotterdam Airport, TU Delft and Delft. Together with KAAN architects, karres+brands has developed an urban plan for the area.

The set of rules drawn up for the public space design provide a solid, yet simple framework for future developments. The landscape serves as the common spatial foundation that connects the buildings and creates a public space for meeting and interaction. The perception of water, rows of trees, air, reeds and flowering grasslands are accentuated with long straight paths and places of rest. A walk through this Dutch landscape among contemporary buildings offers an inspiring environment for modern businesses and educational institutions.

Within the urban plan, karres+brands designed five pedestrian bridges. The “smartest” of their kind, these bridges are equipped with sensors that measure temperature, acceleration, deformation and load. Some bridges have up to 38 sensors. Using an online platform, the bridge manager can gain direct insight into usage, temperature and load. This information is useful for making decisions on when to spread against ice, perform maintenance or carry out other management tasks.

The bridges are subtly integrated into the beautiful surrounding landscape. In one place, they are striking spatial elements that form a path across the water, but in another, they serve as “seating stairs” parallel to the water or as a hook in the landscape, thus highlighting the intersecting orthogonal paths and water structure. In places where the long straight paths cross the waterways, the bridges are not only understood as transition points, but also as meeting places. The slightly inclining banks “ask” for visibility under the bridge. In order to make the construction as slender as possible and be able to execute the ramp and bridge as a single whole, the bridges are made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP).

Project data
Location ​Delft, The Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Develop five bridges
Size ​2 x 25m; 3 x 15m
Design ​2015
Construction ​2015 – 2016
Status ​Realised
Client ​Delft University of Technology / FMVG
Team ​Bart Brands, Sander Vedder
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Helsinge Garden City

Helsinge, Denmark

The village of tomorrow: A model for sustainable living in the countryside

In collaboration with EFFEKT, Atkins, CFBO and Trafikplan, Karres en Brands developed a master plan for Garden City – Village of Tomorrow in Helsinge. Today, many young families have a desire to move to the countryside to be closer to nature, fresh air, affordable living and to provide a better environment for their children. However, due to intensive farming and a prioritization of car transportation, the landscape is to a large extent inaccessible to the rural population and the existing building mass is outdated and cannot fulfill the dreams for young families anymore. Many urban residents hesitate to move to the countryside due to a lack of good public transportation, the distance from job opportunities and the lack of alternative housing forms. As the concept of work changes, the supply of jobs and the transportation options will be less important and the urban-rural movement can seriously take off. 

Helsinge Garden City is a proposal for a new way of living in the Danish countryside, in close connection to the surrounding landscapes, with a strong identity and sense of community. The settlement is structured in clusters, with a large amount of common spaces and a high degree of sharing that enables a more sustainable way of living. The master plan has been developed with three main parameters in mind: Environmental, social and economic sustainability, which together will provide new possibilities to live a more healthy self-sufficient life, in close connection to the landscape and in commuting distance from Copenhagen.

The master plan for the new village community is an organic plan, where landscape and settlement blend together. In order to strengthen community life and create a stronger relation to the surrounding landscapes, the settlement is developed as dense living clusters, with a limited amount of private outdoor spaces. The landscape and the in-between spaces are common areas, used for recreational purposes and with production of food integrated in the landscape, such as fruit orchards, permaculture and husbandry. 

To create a neighborhood with social diversity, both regarding income and lifestyles, the clusters differ in form, materiality, sizes and types of ownerships. However, all houses have a private outdoor area and a direct connection to the common landscapes. The clusters will be developed as 25 small villages, with each their own characteristics, inspired from the qualities of their location. As in the old Danish villages, they are all structured around a common, a pond or a square, where the community and public life can unfold and thrive. 

In contrast to the classical homogenous farming landscape, the clusters are surrounded by a diverse and accessible landscape with wet areas, meadows, forest gardens, fruit orchards and husbandry. This productive recreational network, anchors the development in the existing town. The car roads and pathways are developed as a delta that runs out from a main distribution road and branches out through the landscape to connect the housing clusters in the landscape and the rest of the town. 

A food hub, centrally situated in the new area will be the main driver and meeting point for both locals and visitors. The identity of the new neighborhood is crucial to attract new types of residents and together with the transformation of the landscape, the food hub will provide social and food related activities such as markets and gathering days, which will be the key to create a strong identity and an awareness of the new area.

Project data
Location ​Helsinge, Denmark Google Maps
Assignment ​Master plan
Size ​65 hectares
Design ​2016 – present
Status ​Won competition, In progress
Client ​Gribskov Municipality
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Darius Reznek, Davor Dusanic, Crispijn van Sas, Zuzana Jančovičová
In collaboration with ​EFFEKT, Atkins, CBFO, Trafikplan
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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Isolation as quality for freethinker state

karres+brands was asked by the City of Amsterdam Spatial Planning Department to contribute to the ‘Amsterdam, Free City’ project as part of the 4th Rotterdam International Architecture Biennale. Nine urban design firms, including karres+brands, created plans in the form of architectural models for various prominent locations in the city. karres+brands was assigned the Eastern Islands area.

The Eastern Islands (Oostelijke Eilanden) of Amsterdam have long been a rather isolated district of the city, surrounded by clusters of infrastructure and waterways. The frenetic activity of tourism and large-scale events in other parts of the city centre has largely passed this area by. It contains a number of enclaves, including the old naval base where Somali refugee and former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirshi Ali sought refuge after being subjected to death threats. 

In the design by karres+brands this isolation is further accentuated by restoring waterways and restricting road access, creating a car-free district where the available space can be built upon even more intensively. The remaining public space can be colonised by its inhabitants in an informal manner: when the tyranny of the car is removed, new freedoms are created for the use of space. Just as cloisters and other walled complexes have an ambiguous significance – they are not open, but they can be used to protect people from a hostile outside world – so walled gardens and ‘refuges of free thinking’ within this labyrinthine district function as sanctuaries for artists, writers, politicians and intellectuals who are under threat. In other words, isolation is here utilised as a special quality.

With this plan karres+brands expresses criticism of the increasing levels of regulation and control in a city once renowned for freedom of thought and action. karres+brands shows that urban planning can be the key to restoring freedom in the city.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Uurban design vision
Size ​60 hectare
Design ​2009
Status ​Vision
Client ​Spatial Planning Department; Municipality of Amsterdam
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Marco Broekman, Algimantas Neniskis, Sascha Seidel, Milda Jusaite, Cristina Colonetti, Marijke Bruinsma
In collaboration with ​Lars Brouwer, Mark Thur, Augusto Meijer (sound composition)
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Weerwater Route

Almere, Netherlands

The water as central icon for the city

The Weerwater is Almere’s central inland lake that borders the city centre to the north and the future Floriade Terrain to the south. It is a unique cross-section of city and countryside, which is still not being used to its fullest potential. Currently, the city has its back to the Weerwater. In many places, walking or biking along the water is impossible and there are hardly any facilities along the shore. This creates a tremendous opportunity to transform the Weerwater area into a place where residents can enjoy sports, recreation and time together, forming a beating heart of Almere. It is a place that links the city centre and surrounding areas, giving Almere its identity.

The assignment is to design a recognisable Weerwater Route (Rondje Weerwater) to support facilities and activities and to create trails for sports and recreation, connectors, bridges, gathering places and furniture. Thus, the “physical” Weerwater Route is intrinsically linked to the area’s revitalisation and programming. The goal is for the Route to provide an identity theme for Almere and surrounding residential areas. The Route’s development and design brings new possibilities to not only transform the city and the urban design of specific areas, but to improve its functional-spatial coherence. The transformation of neighbouring districts and the construction of new ones offers an excellent opportunity to make better use of the Weerwater Route’s central location, using it as a catalyst for urban development.

For the Weerwater to be meaningful, it is important that bordering residential districts join in. The Weerwater Route will connect all the surrounding neighbourhoods and fragmented park areas, while also contributing to a larger network of trails and routes. To do so, the design proposes a circular park around the water with a recreational cycling and walking trail: a seven kilometre Weerwater Route and a shorter route of approximately four kilometres.

A continuous, well-traced path around the lake makes the Weerwater Route more recognisable. Design features include special edge detailing, furnishing and lighting, as well as clearly marked routes for walking, biking, and skating and eye-catching signs to mark the path structure. By creating recognisable locations and providing distance markers for athletes, an active route is formed along the banks. In addition, a series of striking “anchor points” make the water’s edge even more dynamic. These points are placed in strategic locations and are always visible from the previous anchor point, giving visitors and residents the feeling of being literally and figuratively transported. In this way, the Route is a narrative of places and spaces, a festive ribbon along the banks bringing more vibrancy to the Weerwater region.

Naturally, capturing a place’s identity takes more than a design and programming. It also needs to be communicated to the target users. A visual identity for the Route has been developed in collaboration with NorthernLight to reflect the location’s core values. This distinctive, unambiguous design fosters a sense of familiarity and reliability.

Project data
Location ​Almere, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Programmatic vision and design for the Weerwater Route
Size ​450 hectares
Design ​2016
Status ​Preliminary design phase, partially in construction
Client ​Municipality of Almere
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, David Kloet, Zuzana Jančovičová, Joep Meijer
In collaboration with ​NorthernLight, OverMorgen
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City Campus Amsterdam Southeast

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Public space as a catalyst for urban life

The City Campus Amsterdam Southeast came as a result of the new ING Headquarters and demonstrates ING’s ambition to be not only a new office, but also a key collaborator in the transformation of the new centre. Existing buildings, such as the Treasury Center and Financial Plaza are to be renovated and the square in front of the new ING headquarters will be clearly seen as a part of the newly furbished Bijlmerdreef. This area is a public space that is accessible to everyone.

The new headquarters is anything but a classic bank building on a pedestal. It is a modern, transparent and green organisation located in the heart of society. This vision prompted the choice to remove a number of programmes from the building and relocate them to a pavilion in the middle of the new campus. Not only would this make room for restaurants or other amenities in the headquarters, but this pavilion would serve as a source of activities coupling ING and the Amsterdam Port; in other words, a programmable building that can assume different functions.

Of all the public spaces, the Campus Square takes on a unique position in relation to the other public areas on the Southeast campus. It is a green square that combines a park setting with an urban plaza. What’s more, it is a square that invites one to stay and meet. The multifunctional square is designed as an outdoor living room with terraces and plenty of seating, making it suitable for performances, film screenings and spontaneous initiatives. There are no cars on the square. Parking is located in an underground parking garage. Bicycle parking is also resolved indoors.

The campus vision emphasises once again the importance of public space in the transformation process of Amsterdam Southeast into Amsterdam’s second centre: a vibrant, lively, colourful centre that offers a mix of housing, workplaces, amenities and nightlife. The starting point is a public space that invites one to stay, whose design stimulates a cross-breeding of talent, ideas, meetings and insight.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​City campus vision
Size ​5.1 hectare
Design ​2016
Status ​Completed study
Client ​ING Groep N.V.
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Jasper Nijveldt, Roy Straathof, Simona Serafino
In collaboration with ​Benthem Crouwel Architects
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ING office Cedar

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A green urban garden for Amsterdam Southeast

In 2015, ING Bank decided to move its office within Amsterdam Southeast. The building is being developed with a focus on sustainability, innovation and creativity, and Karres en Brands designed the surrounding landscape. With 2,700 employees in the new office, ING aims to contribute a vibrant and inspiring location to this part of the city. The new building is a first step towards a city campus adjacent to the Amsterdam Southeast Centre.

Characteristic of Southeast’s buildings, the lot has a height difference of 3.50 metres between the ground and the overlying main road. The building and landscape design bridges this height difference in a relaxed manner, providing for a good connection between the ground and road levels. New walking routes to other ING offices on the road level activate the Bijlmerdreef’s public space, which was originally intended for motorized traffic only. The landscape around the building will be furbished as a large urban garden with walking paths, gathering areas and seating opportunities. Lawns and large trees set the scene and give the plot a green appearance. The landscape gradually descends to the ground level, where it adds lush green terraces to the Amsterdam Port shopping area. The landscape facilitates the main entrances of the two buildings and a restaurant pavilion with terraces. The landscape is a lively place that invites employees, customers and other visitors to use the outdoor spaces as an extension of their working and living environment.

As part of this development, Karres en Brands also created an urban planning vision and made the final design for upgrading the adjacent Bijlmerdreef. Both are aimed at developing a city campus where ING buildings and lots play an important role in creating more diversity, urbanity and quality in the public space.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design public space
Size ​1.9 hectares
Design ​2015 – 2016
Construction ​2018 – 2020
Status ​Realized
Client ​OVG Vastgoed and G&S Vastgoed
Team ​Bart Brands, Joost de Natris, Sander Vedder, Jeroen Hoogenraad, Jeroen Brinkers
In collaboration with ​Benthem Crouwel architects, HofmanDujardin
Copyright images ​Chiel van Diest
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Zuidas Ravel

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A spatial foundation for the entire district

In the Zuidas Amsterdam development area, the A1 highway, rail tracks and tramlines pass underground through a tunnel. This creates a spatially and programmatically complex junction at the eastern opening of the tunnel - known as the ‘Dock’. Here sports fields are fitted between various development locations. The eastern and western sides of this ‘sport park’ are flanked by the Vivaldi and Ravel development sites. The plans for the northern side of the Dock are at an advanced stage of development, and the Boelegracht canal is being constructed to the south. Even the space beneath the sports fields are being developed with parking garages, to smoothly bridge the 8-metre height difference with the roof of the tunnel.

The various areas all have their own particular dynamic and programming, planning, phasing, development and special requirements. There is a risk that the intervening public spaces could become no more than a collection of incoherent fringe areas. An overarching concept is needed to integrate these diverse and continually changing plans.

karres+brands has drawn up a design to ensure the integration and mutual coherence of these areas. The public spaces between the component locations are given a common identity that will form a spatial foundation for the whole district. A hybrid network of spaces in the form of parks and squares engage with the adjacent areas, bridging differences in height, generating activities and linking the Beatrix Park with the southern suburb of Buitenveldert. The spatial network takes the form of plazas, pathways, squares and parks with differing elevations. The topography offers views over the sports fields, regulates accessibility and privacy, creates connections to shopping streets and integrates parking garages and cultural functions.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Vision integration sportsfields
Size ​12 hectare
Design ​2008
Status ​Vision
Client ​Amsterdam Southaxis Project Office
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Joost de Natris
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De Bavelse Berg

Breda, Netherlands

Former landfill to be transferomed into regional crowd puller

A former rubbish tip – the Bavelse Berg – and its surrounding area will be transformed into a neighbourhood with a unique combination of leisure and retail functions. The area, which has been closed to the public for many years, will be developed into a public attraction for the region. The plan includes an events complex made up of a hall and an outdoor arena, which is expected to attract two million visitors per year.

Because the Bavelse Berg is an artificial landscape, our view is that a landscape with its own, new value and identity should be created. The function of this landscape is recreation: a leisure landscape with a light-hearted and decorative character.

The design is based on a park structure with open places. Working on a circle principle, the plateau is ‘perforated’, as it were, so that its edges function as paths. Because of the differences in height on the hill the circles will not be literally perceived as circles, but instead form a framework in time. This three-dimensionality means that the landscape will be experienced in a different way: the fields that are created can be used in all kinds of ways, varying over time. The densities and dimensions of the circles relate to the park’s three themes of wellness, sport and entertainment, with the fourth theme – culture – draped like a blanket over the entire hill and functioning as a unifying element. Relationships between the outdoor and the indoor play an important role in the landscape park. In addition, the location places demands upon the type of buildings. Only ultra-light and sustainable units can be placed here. As a general principle the fields will have a stepped structure. Empty fields provide locations for temporary functions, while always remaining integral elements of the park.

Flexibility and phasing are key principles of this development plan, so that the pace of the development as well as the functions within the indoor and outdoor programmes can be managed in detail.

Project data
Location ​Breda, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Urban plan
Size ​65 hectare
Design ​2008 – 2009
Status ​on hold
Client ​Ontwikkelcombinatie Park De Bavelse Berg b.v.
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Lieneke van Campen, Daphne van der Wal, Claire Oude Aarninkhof
In collaboration with ​Vera Yanovshtchinsky Architects
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Graz, Austria

A new icon for the city

The 54-hectare site of the former Reininghaus brewery, situated in the western area of Graz, will be redeveloped over the next 30 years into a new centre for Graz West. The aim of our design proposal is to transform the area into a cosmopolitan and lively city quarter with housing, living and working space for 12,000 people: this district will become the outstanding new icon of the city of Graz.

The district’s current open character will be maintained by developing half of the area as a park and the other half in high density. The park will be the heart of the area. Around this park a broad strip of houses, cultural centres, businesses, offices, academic institutions and public functions are situated. A network of public spaces connects the park with the edge of the built-up area and the surrounding neighbourhoods, and forms a single coherent fabric within Graz West. A strong impetus for the district is created by the interaction between this built-up strip, the park and existing buildings. What was at the rear becomes the front; the neighbourhood connects itself with the city.

A network of lawns, trees and paths forms the basis of the park. The fields within the park provide space for public and commercial functions, such as a wellness centre, cinemas and sports clubs. These functions will adapt themselves to the needs of the users over time.

The design proposal was created as a commission from the developer in dialogue with Graz City Council. The plan is one component of a series of plan studies by external advisors with diverse fields of expertise, such as architects, traffic specialists, urban planners and planning economists. The plan studies have been presented to local residents, civil servants and council members on a number of occasions. The detail of the programme and master plan for this district of the city will be developed further. These developments will be made on the basis of the study outcomes and responses to presentations held.

Project data
Location ​Graz, Austria Google Maps
Assignment ​Urban design vision
Size ​54 hectare
Design ​2008
Status ​Vision
Client ​Stadtland, Asset One
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Lieneke van Campen, Uta Krause
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Ny Østergade

Roskilde, Denmark

The station is the city and the city is the station

karres+brands together with EFFEKT, WTM, Arup and ALECTIA, made the winning proposal to redevelop the station area of Roskilde. The 3,5 hectares sized competition area between the railway and Ny Østergade is to be developed into a vibrant, attractive and sustainable urban area that can serve as a bridge between the northern and southern part of Roskilde City, and contribute to a vibrant centre. A total of about 100.000 m² of new public, residential and office program will replace the currently parking dominated area. Our proposal explores the potential of infrastructure to become fully integrated in the existing city fabric and act as a driver for vibrant urban life.   

We propose using the new program to completely redefine what the station is. By opening up the public space to the railway we generate together with the new functions a different type of station. From a static building to a vibrant station area! A porous urban fabric which maximizes accessibility and brings together two previously separated parts of the city. Infrastructure can thus become completely integrated in fabric of the city. The station is the city and the city is the station!

Central to our proposal is the gesture of seamlessly connecting two sides of Roskilde with a sunken public square. With maximum openings for daylight the railways become a series of bridges; pergola like constructions above the square. Patches of green animate the crossing making for an open, light, and friendly connection that brings the park and green structures in the south all the way into the city center and further down to the waterfront.

Towards the extremities of the site, a mix of offices, small shops and housing react to the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhoods. Together with strong necklace of public spaces along the Ny Østergade they act as a membrane binding the new and old together in a context grounded development.

The biodiversity and micro-climate became the key elements of landscape strategy for Ny Østergade. Green network stretching from west to east has been reinforced by well integrated rainwater collectors which help to manage water balance of the side and potentially support climate change mitigation in the future.

A low vegetation and shrubbery alongside of the railway track does not only complete the vibrant ecological backbone of Ny Østergade, but as well serve as a noise barrier and help filter and purify polluted air. The series of new public places, as food market, playground and sports fields, are supplemented by small lush parks at far east and west point of Ny Østergade.

Project data
Location ​Roskilde, Denmark Google Maps
Assignment ​Mixed use masterplan, station area
Size ​3.5 hectare/ 100.000 m² GFA
Design ​2015 – 2019
Status ​Won competition, Project in progress
Client ​Roskilde Municipality
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Darius Reznek, Zuzana Jančovičová, Marlena Rether, Zofia Krzykawska
In collaboration with ​EFFEKT, WTM, Arup, ALECTIA
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The Seven New Netherlands


The Seven New Netherlands" is karres+brands’ contribution to the Landscape Challenge 2070 and the landscape recommendation of the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure. The Dutch landscape is constantly changing. Developments such as urbanisation, agricultural intensification, climate change and energy transition have a major impact on the quality of the landscape. Meanwhile, changes are also occurring at the administrative level. Through decentralisation and deregulation, the job of caring for the landscape falls to ever lower levels of government. Therefore, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure has developed a landscape recommendation. In this recommendation, the Council explores how the quality of the landscape can be secured in the future and what the government’s role in this is. Seeking input for this recommendation, the Council asked seven companies and three educational institutions to give their views in the "Landscape Challenge 2070" on what trends and uncertainties are critical to the future formation of the landscape (2070) and what role the government can and should play in them.

The Netherlands has a heroic tradition of dredging, land reclamation and landscape building. More than half of the country is directly reclaimed from nature. This has resulted in extraordinary landscapes such as reclaimed land, sand dunes, and the Delta Works. However, this tradition also has its downside. Constantly working against nature requires a lot of maintenance, often resulting in unforeseen problems such as flooded villages and degraded natural areas. With new challenges ahead, such as climate change, urbanisation and energy transition, the traditional Dutch attitude towards nature seems unsustainable.

Deltastad: Highly protected cities in a watery landscape

In order to ease the tension between man and nature, it is essential to work not against nature, but rather, with nature even more. In various locations throughout the country, experiments with similar spatial solutions are underway. Despite successful examples, such as "building with nature" projects along the coast, floating homes, and food forests as synergy between nature and agriculture, efforts in the Netherlands to move with the nature are for the most part, not yet off the ground. Work against nature is an integral part of our nation and has brought us fame and fortune from all over the world. However, the world is realising that this tense relationship with nature will no longer be sustainable in the future. In order to continue to ensure our security and remain competitive on an international level, a national attitude change is needed: from a nation of delta engineers working against nature to a nation of delta managers moving along with it.

Rivierenland: Room for the river, wet agriculture and compact cities

On a large scale, this means that fundamentally new choices must be made. Assumptions from centuries of work against nature must be put aside to make room in the country’s spatial planning for natural processes and logic. This means new forms of agriculture that are suitable to the natural conditions, that generate energy where the wind blows the hardest and the sun shines the strongest, and in the long-term, transitioning the country’s economic and demographic heart out of the drain and onto higher sandy ground.

Veluwe: The new heart of the Netherlands

Consolidating this change requires a new management approach, one that is not based on administrative and sectoral logic, but rather on the landscape. Instead of five ministries, each responsible for a specific part of the landscape, we are introducing a new administrative system of seven new regions, each with its own character and its own power based on natural conditions and economic relations. In this system, the national government still determines the framework, but the region executes. In this way, instead of generic solutions for all of the Netherlands, spatial development is once again linked to the specific capabilities and opportunities of each region in the Netherlands.

Deltaland: Back to nature with energy production and saline agriculture

Groot-Brabant: Mosaic of living, working, nature and energy

The proposed revision of the administrative system in 2070 leads to a differentiated landscape: low areas of the Netherlands (Deltaland, Deltastad and Rivierenland) will give more space for the water. This means new forms of agriculture, such as aquaculture (delta land) and wet crops (rivierenland), as well as smaller and more compact cities that each provide their own water safety. In higher areas of the Netherlands, the population will continue to increase in 2070. Existing cities on the edge of the Veluwe will further expand and in Groot-Brabant and the Ruhr region the landscape mosaic will continue to be filled with new businesses, small-scale residential areas and strong connections to the economic hinterland. In the northeast of the country, where economic relations with neighbouring countries are less strong, there will be more room for large-scale nature areas combined with varied production forests for energy production and material for the bio-based economy.

Ruhr region: Strong links with the economic hinterland

State forrests: Large-scale nature of self-sustaining neighborhoods

Project data
Location ​Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design study
Size ​41,543 km²
Design ​2016
Status ​Completed study
Client ​The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (RLI)
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Jonas Papenborg, Zuzana Jančovičová, Jasper Nijveldt, David Kloet, Darius Reznek
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Park Rijnhaven

Rotterdam, Netherlands

By appointment of the municipality of Rotterdam, karres+brands have created a preliminary design for Park Rijnhaven. The future park is sited in a former harbour area in Rotterdam, between the Wilhelminapier and Katendrecht. For the development of the area, a section of the Rijnhaven will be reclaimed. Firstly, a large, deep parking structure will be realized in Park Rijnhaven. Next to the park ‘The Scharnier’, an area with urban functions such as restaurants, shops, offices and public facilities, will be developed. Both the park and the new urban functions contribute to the liveliness of this locale.

In the design for Park Rijnhaven, dealing with height restrictions for the parking garage and a desire to connect with the water were important main factors. The park must have a considerably positive quality for short and long stays, for young and old, for the student and businessman. It will become a sheltered, gentle place, in contrast with the rigid and stony quays of the Kop van Zuid. The park is given own identity, a lightly sloping topography and large areas of grass. These will be separated from each other with elongated lines, referring to weathered driftwood. These lines will be manifested in various ways: as water-obstructing quay barriers, stairs, benches or the retaining wall toward the parking garage. The lines bridge the difference in elevation from the park to the water. Given the sizable fluctuations in water (ca. 3.5 metres) it is possible that parts of the park will flood a few times per year.

Project data
Location ​Rotterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design of city park
Size ​6.5 hectare
Design ​2008 – 2009
Status ​Preliminary design
Client ​Municipality of Rotterdam
Team ​Sylvia Karres, Bart Brands, Lieneke van Campen, Thomas Harper, Joost de Natris
In collaboration with ​Renner Hainke Wirth Architekten
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Bridges Defence Island

Woerden, Netherlands

Living on a quiet island in the middle of the city

Defence Island is located in the Singel near the historic centre of Woerden, and is part of the old fortifications around the inner city. Until recently, the island was used as a depot and management facility for the Ministry of Defence. With the military terrain recently being made available, the island will undergo a transformation in the coming years, again making it an integral part of the city of Woerden—and a unique location. In 2011, karres+brands was asked to revise the original master plan and design by KCAP, incorporating this into an urban plan. The biggest challenge in the design is to once more associate Defence Island with the city of Woerden, and make it a part of the route between the train station and the city centre.

The plan provides for approximately 240 homes, charming squares, and beautiful walking routes in a unique location. The main focus of the redevelopment is to preserve the identity of the island, with its distinctive, rugged construction and green character. Some buildings are renovated, while new buildings are designed as often as possible in the style of the old buildings, or respond to the architecture of the Singel. By incorporating the existing pavement’s materials in the new structuring of the public area, it will also connect this public space to the original atmosphere and character of the island. Four new bridges, designed by karres+brands, connect the new residential area with the surrounding city.

Project data
Location ​Woerden, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design urban plan, visual quality plan, public space organisation, and bridges
Size ​Length: 70 m; Span: 41 m
Design ​2014
Construction ​2014
Status ​First bridge realised
Client ​De Wasserij CV (VORM Ontwikkeling and Blauwhoed Eurowoningen Zuidwest BV)
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Elke Krausman, Jeroen Brinkers
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Ny Trelleborg

Slagelse, Denmark

A view to the Viking Fortress

Together with 3XN, Atelier Brückner, Yoke and Orbicon, karres+brands has developed a design for the new visitor centre at the Trelleborg Viking Fortress. Trelleborg is one of five surviving Viking fortresses from the 10th Century and the best preserved specimen. In addition to a restaurant, museum shop and offices, the future visitor centre will house an exhibition about the Vikings and military life in the Viking Era. Visits to the fortress exhibitions will contribute to a greater awareness of history and also showcase new information about this time period, one that is so important to Danish history that five archaeological sites are currently nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The fortress dates from the 10th Century and was one of the most prosperous Viking settlements with a population of approximately 500 people. Trelleborg was strategically located in a marshy area with an open connection to the sea. The fortress has a round shape with a diameter of 137 metres and was surrounded by an earthen rampart with wooden palisades. Inside the rampart were four quadrants with a total of 16 large residential buildings. Outside the castle stood another 15 residential buildings. 

From 1934 to 1942, an extensive archaeological investigation took place and the entire settlement was mapped. All that remains today are the grassy earth bank and a pattern of concrete elements that represent the original layout. Outside the fortress, one of the residential buildings has been reconstructed. Trelleborg is a major national and international tourist attraction. The old visitor centre is too small and can no longer keep up with today’s demands; therefore, it will be torn down. The new visitor centre will not only tell the story of the Vikings and the fortress in a contemporary way, but it will also showcase found objects from the time in a modern display. Near the visitor centre is a collection of small houses with historical character. At this location, reenactments of Viking battles and other large-scale events will be held in the summer. These events sometimes host as many as 1,000 people on the premises, many of whom stay overnight. 

The competition’s most important task was to develop a building concept that minimizes the impact on the subtle remnants of the original fortress and surrounding landscape. By integrating the visitor centre into a grass-covered volume, it looks as if it is part of the landscape. The volume consists of two parts, bisected by a line of sight on the fortress. One half includes office and storage space and opens up to the entrance. The other half contains the exhibition space and restaurant and opens up to the landscape. 

Three scenic routes provide access to the visitor centre and connect it to the fortress and landscape. The 'entrance route’ starts at the car park and takes the visitor in a circular path to the visitor centre, offering a glimpse of the terrain. The cut through the body of land gives a spectacular view of the Trelleborg fortress. The 'scenic route' route connects the visitor to the fortress, the reconstructed house and the landscape. By strategically placing two bridges, visitors can walk back to the visitor centre through a swampy landscape that is reminiscent of the original landscape. Along this route, the landscape and exhibition come together with information points designed to tell the story of the site and the events that took place here during the Viking Era. The 'play route’ connects the visitor centre to the event area, small buildings and playgrounds. 

In order to minimize damage to the surroundings and the historic character, a reserved approach to materialisation was chosen, using materials such as grass, wood and gravel. The objects are contemporary, but with muted forms so as not to compete with the historical objects. Functionality has been leading the design. The car park is designed to minimally impact the area while offering maximum capacity. Minimal interventions at strategic points make the area ideal for use by both small numbers of visitors and large masses during the annual Viking Events.

Project data
Location ​Slagelse, Denmark Google Maps
Assignment ​Landscape integration and development, new visitor centre design
Size ​15 hectare / 2.000 m² GFA
Design ​2015
Status ​Competition entry
Client ​Slagelse Municipality, Nationalmuseet
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Darius Reznek, Justyna Chmielewska, Zuzana Jančovičová
In collaboration with ​3XN, Atelier Bruckner, Yoke, Orbicon
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Tile Garden Appeltern

Appeltern, Netherlands

Vertical gardening with ideas and dreams

The theme of the annual garden festival in The Gardens of Appeltern 2012 is The Street as a Garden, for which karres+brands designed a five meter high Hortus Exclusus.

The Netherlands is being paved. Millions of square meters of paving materials are processed in our country every year. The pressure on green space in the street is enormous and still rising. More has to happen in less space and under increasingly strict social norms. The green has to give way. In our busy society, city dwellers do not have time to maintain a garden - paving is easier. Scraping in between tiles is the new gardening. There is no more room to appreciate the garden or public space as part of the private living environment. The liveability of public space is at stake.

The Tile Garden (or Paving Stone Garden) comprises an immense volume of standard thirty-by-thirty paving stones, symbolising a paved Netherlands. From a distance, it looks like an archetypal ‘hortus conclusus’ hidden behind a tile wall, an enclosed garden that you can enter. It’s a place where the visitor can enjoy flowers, gurgling water, leafy shade and more. Up close, however, it looks more like a ‘hortus exclusus’, a garden where the visitor remains locked out. Yet, in the narrow spaces between hedge and tiled walls, a different kind of garden is created: a garden of ideas. Sounds of mowing grass, sawing wood, playing children, etc. can be heard from behind the wall, evoking images and memories of enriching experiences that happen in the garden - or in the street.

On red plant labels, visitors can write what they would like to do, see, smell, hear and experience in their street. The inscribed labels are inserted into the cracks and joints of the wall. Gradually, the wall is covered with a red veil of ideas, dreams and fantasies.

Project data
Location ​Appeltern, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Garden design for garden festival
Size ​100 m²
Design ​2012
Construction ​2012 – 2013
Status ​Demolished
Client ​Tuinen van Appeltern
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Tomas Degenaar, Joost de Natris
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Langedijk Cemetery

Zuid-Scharwoude, Netherlands

A cemetery intended for 2,500 graves and 180 children’s graves is not a straightforward commission. In this location the cemetery forms a green recreational structure within the municipality. The task was to ensure a firm consolidation of the cemetery to the surrounding landscape.

For the new Oostervaart cemetery in Langedijk we decided to divide the cemetery into small, enclosed outdoor ‘grave chambers’. Connections to the ‘grave chambers’ were made by means of a public park network. Within this network, sightlines provide the relationships with the surrounding area; and a connection to the park-like environs. For technical reasons, the cemetery will be laid out higher than the surrounding area. Graves will be dug in three layers and, depending on the ground water level, each ‘grave chamber’ will be given its own elevation.

The total number of graves will be divided into seven ‘grave chambers’. These will be surrounded by high hedges, creating intimate and enclosed spaces. Every ‘grave chamber’ will have its own atmosphere, with an appropriate design. The planting, trees and manner of placing the gravestone are different for each chamber.

The park network forms the connection between the cemetery and its surroundings, and in between the different ‘grave chambers’. The entrances to the cemetery are linked with this network, so that a direct route is created. This network is created with the use of lawns, raised mounds and widely spread trees that lie lower than the ‘grave chambers’. The parks connecting network becomes a separate element of the cemetery. From the park network, sightlines create new relationships with the surrounding area. Where the landscape necessitates an opening, the system response by opening out into its ‘environs’ adding special elements like: stairways, viewpoints and balconies.

A covered waiting area is situated at the entrance to the cemetery, which is open to all. The design for the waiting area was created in partnership with Onix. The cemetery’s maintenance building is positioned on the other side of the site.

Project data
Location ​Zuid-Scharwoude, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Cemetery design
Size ​6 hectare (1st phase 2.7 hectare)
Design ​2003 – 2005
Construction ​2007 – 2008 (first phase)
Status ​First phase realised
Client ​Municipality of Langedijk
Budget ​€ 1.2 Mio
Team ​Sylvia Karres, Bart Brands, Lieneke van Campen, Joost de Natris, Andre Baldisiute
In collaboration with ​Rod’or Advies, Onix architects
Copyright images ​François Hendickx, Rob de Jong, karres+brands
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Berestein Cemetery

’s-Graveland, Netherlands

Cemetery on an island in open space in the forest

’s-Graveland can be seen as a special area from both a cultural and a landscape architectural viewpoint. It is a unique exploitation from the seventeenth century. During the exploitation period the strip was dug off and divided into 27 equal parcels. Within this rational parcellation, a coherent sequence of estates of exceptional beauty has developed. Berestein lies on the Beresteinseweg and the Gooise Vaart and borders on the north side with the Gooilust estate. The old cemetery exists as an open square space enclosed by forest. Exactly in the middle there is a double row of lime trees. The entrance lies at the beginning of this lane. On the north there is a big open space, the former cherry orchard, currently used as a meadow. To the east lies the Corverslaan, an unpaved road with beech trees.

The design of the extension of the cemetery is based on using and intensifying the spatial situation. The old cemetery lies as an open room in the forest; the new part lies as a grown over island in the open space. The chapel is situated in the forest as a hidden treasure. The main path, which is extended to the new cemetery, forms the spine of the project. The new part has an oval shape and lies 1.5 meter higher than the surrounding meadow. Around the new cemetery a beech hedge is planted which will reach the height of 1.5 meter.

The cemetery itself exists of a grid of graves in the grass. The space is arranged by cherry trees and 6m high-sculpted lime tree blocks, which are placed separate from each other. Using 1m high-sculpted yew tree blocks makes an arrangement on a lower level. The grass on the cemetery is cut very short. Outside the cemetery the landscape comprises of rough grass planting.

The form of chapel can be simply identified by its rectangular shape and curved roof. The chapel rises above ground level and has the ground floor extending beyond the building giving the appearance that it is floating. The front and back facades are closed. The other two sides of the facade are made of glass, which gives the experience that you are sitting within the forest. The trees that almost reach the building enhance this feeling. The planting is composed of original forest planting; oak trees, birch trees, acacia trees and rowan trees. The planting directly surrounding the chapel is differentiated with ferns.

The chapel can be reached by funeral processions from the Corverslaan and by pedestrians via the main path or via a new path on the east side of the cemetery. From the front square a narrow path goes as a loop through the forest and crosses the main path. Along this narrow path stand concrete urn columns.

Project data
Location ​’s-Graveland, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Extension of cemetery
Size ​5 hectare
Design ​1996
Construction ​1997 – 1999
Status ​Realised
Client ​Municipality of ’s-Graveland
Team ​Sylvia Karres, Bart Brands, Marie-Laure Hoedemakers, Rudolf Zielinski
In collaboration with ​Jan-Ton Stork (auditorium design)
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