Lola Landscape Architects, Singelpark Design Competition, book
LOLA landscape architectsSINGELPARKLeiden full circle
1. Foreword2. Leiden and the Singels3. A new park for Leiden4. Singelpark: Leiden full circle5. Maximum diversity6. Intuitive navigation7. Cosmopolitan nature8. Free space9. Our teamColofonp. 5p. 7p.13p.15p. 19p. 27p. 39p. 45p. 49p. 51Table of contents
5Leiden has acknowledged the most important park concept of our time:the Singelpark will become an attractive ring of interlaced parks wrappedaround the heart of the historic inner city. From NewYork to Singapore,the phenomenon of the ‘linear park’ is the 21st century response to ourcontemporary green needs: connectivity, breathing space, biodiversity. TheSingelpark will become the one and only linear park that goes full circle: asingle continuous space and ecological connection.Something extraordinary is happening in the heart of Leiden. The citizensof Leiden collectively embrace the development of the Singelpark withunequaled enthusiasm. Leiden’s residents are very influential and engagedwith the development of their city, as they have proven in the past with theirparticipation in the RijnGouwelijn and Nieuw Leyden projects.Yet, the Singelpark is not just a plan or a project, it is an ideal. It is the idealof a greener, more sustainable, beautiful, exciting Leiden. It is an ideal tovalue for at least the coming twenty years and hopefully for the comingcentury. A project on such a scale, with such extensive plans, requiresflexibility in strategic choices and at the same time, timelessness in thedesign implementation. Simply put, the Singelpark will be tailor-made forthe people of Leiden. It should give inspiration in a way that can still be felt inthe coming ten or twenty years.The vision that lies before the reader is based on the knowledge weobsessively gained in the past two months about Leiden, its history, itschallenges and its people. It is based on our conception of city parks, natureand society.We visited and photographed the city extensively, met with andinterviewed people, read books and researched the web.We hope the resultis an idea that makes Leiden proud.1. Foreword
61200 18991575 19661630 19921725 20121850 2040?Leiden’s history through the glasses of the Singelpark
72. Leiden and the SingelsIn order to answer the question on what the future identity of the Singelparkcould be, it is important to understand Leiden’s identity today, and the role ofthe Singelpark within it.History: from Golden to sixteen shades of GreenThe footprint of the Singelpark is set in the Golden Age, when civic lifeflourished in all its aspects: economy, culture and science. For almost twocenturies the canals and bulwarks that were built in the 17th century formedthe façade of the city. They are the monuments of the most turbulent andwealthy era of the history of Leiden: starting with the dramatic LeidensOntzet, followed by the constitution of the University and the HortusBotanicus, the booming of the textile industry and the lives of painters likeVan Rijn, Lievens,Van Goyen and Dou.In the 19th century the city burst out of its defense line seams and the ringof bulwarks was occupied by a myriad of functions: cemeteries, factories,buildings, and an attractive park, the Plantsoen. In the second half of the 20thcentury, the functions of the first wave of occupation of the bulwarks slowlydisappeared, and since the 1980’s the numerous industrial complexes havebeen converted into a new range of urban functions. In the meantime andvery gradually, the amount of park space has been enlarged. Through time,the primary function of the Singels changes from merely defense to a morediverse mix of urban functions, eventually focusing completely on leisure,both for the inhabitants of Leiden and for visitors. In total, sixteen parks canbe discerned along the Singels. Each one of them has a different history anddifferent function.
8Moving water edges through timeMonumental value: what should be preserved and what can change?irreplaceablereplaceable
9The monumentality of red, green and blueThe historical value of Leiden’s inner city and the Singelpark is self-evident,but not all existing elements are equally valuable. The Singels started asquite a generic military structure, and became more typically ‘Leiden’through occupation and re-occupation. In order to intervene in this historicalenvironment, we will have to agree on the monumental value of things. Themonumental value of the existing is dependent on age, beauty, uniquenessand the role in the narrative of the city. This narrative is expanding.In general, green elements like trees, shrubs and lawns are considered lessmonumental than built elements, like the Morspoort or the Sterrenwacht.Natural sceneries constantly change while built city views can staycompletely unaltered for 300 years. Further to this, the water edge of theSingel itself has altered over time. Although the shape of the Singel hasroughly stayed intact, the edges moved outward and inward, depending onthe function of the bulwarks. These historic city edges have a certain degreeof fluidity. The historical flexibility of water and green space gives a ‘moral’position of freedom to intervene.
10Involved citizensIntimacyOpen water, grand viewsEnjoyable park spaces
11Contemporary qualitiesNext to its historic backbone of monuments and stories, the Singels ofLeiden have some very specific fundamentals for any future development.First of all, there is an exquisite collection of parks and spaces. For the oldexamples like Groenesteeg and the Plantsoen it is obvious they do notneed a makeover: at most a gentle touch-up.Yet, the recently refurbishedHuigpark, while offering essential open space to the city, rather misses outon vivacity in its park services and functions.Secondly, the inner city and some parts of the Singelpark have a veryintimate character. This has a significant impact on how people use thespace: think of the Cum Laude Concerts in the courtyards of the innercity. In no other city we have seen so many people sitting on a bench bythemselves reading a book – clearly at ease in the urban environment. Themany signs in public space with do’s and don’ts (e.g. “this planter is nourinal” or “sail quietly”) show that the people want to keep it that way.That leads to the third quality: the involvement of the citizens. Theyhave proven in the past that they can make or break any development.The development of the RijnGouwelijn through the inner city has beensuccessfully blocked, whereas the Singelpark has been enthusiasticallybeen embraced until now. This involvement is rather unique and should beseen as a crucial force behind the genesis of the future Singelpark.In contrast with this intimacy of the inner city, the water of the Singel isstunning in its size and continuity. It opens up grand views on the city andoffers the necessary open space for different user groups to each claim apiece of the public realm without leading to conflict.
133. A new park for LeidenAs stated before, the Singelpark is not a regular project; it is a rather abstractideal, shared by the many citizens of Leiden. The ideal can be seen as acomprehensive cloud of ideas and ambitions, a complex sequence of do’sand don’ts that is impossible to capture in just a single image or slogan. Thisis reflected in the way the competition is organized: designers are not askedto base their ideas on a specific programme and a list of judgment criteria,but on eleven guiding principles, the extensive results of a brainstormevening with the citizens of Leiden, and a qualitative essay.To quote the essay: “Leiden is looking for the common thread, which unitesall these different areas, paths and water structures, to make the Singelparkform and feel as one. (…) This competition aims to generate multiple ideasfor the identity and cohesion of the Leiden Singelpark.” This should result inan overarching vision for the future as well as a very down to earth first stepthat can be taken in the next five years.When envisioning the future Singelpark, the main question is where thebalance lies between unity and diversity, between control and laissez faire.We want it all: the question is how we want it and where we want it.
15The green spaces along the Singels of Leiden have the potential to becomea great city park. The steps that need to be taken in order to get there willbe explained on the basis of four themes: Maximum diversity; Cosmopolitannature; Intuitive navigation and Free space.4. Singelpark: Leiden full circle
Project 2: programming the park spacesProject 1: continuous park edgesProject 3: de-streeting
19Cities generate and attract diversity. Maximum diversity is maximum qual-ity: satisfaction of one overall identity will be far smaller than the joy of greatdiversity. That is why the Singelpark is all about diversity of life and variety ofuse, connected by one continuous green ring.Green ring. Seen from afar, the Singelpark is green ring around the citycenter. This ring connects to other nearby parks, but also to nature reservesand recreational areas at the outskirts of Leiden. The Singelpark is the cen-tral ring in this natural network.De-street. In order to make this green ring a reality, a low-traffic Singelparkis preferable. To optimize the park experience there is a need to de-streetthe current lay-out of the Singels. This means that the Singelpark does notdouble as a continuous route for car traffic. Instead, the city center is ap-proachable over four routes that cross the Singelpark.Multi-layered. The Singelpark is a multi-layered figure. For centuries andcenturies, the park has seen many historical happenings and profoundchanges. The Singelpark embraces this historic layering and adds to it.For everybody. The Singelpark is for the whole public. That means its lay-out is tailored to fit the residents of all types of backgrounds, as well as thescholars and students of the university. Children can find their way in thepark just as easily as tourists find the highlights there.Backbone. Starting from the inside of the Singelpark, there is the centralgreen ring. This is the backbone of the park: continuous, even endless. It isrecognizable and always present, composed of the water and green shoresof the Singel, having paths and trails as its main features.Local parks. Next to the central ring are the individual parks. These parkshave their own history, their own ownership, their own looks, and their ownrole in the city. The goal of the Singelpark is not to make these differencesequal. Instead the differences are amplified, resulting in a multi-coloredSingelpark, where the Huigpark differs from the Plantsoen instead of resem-bling it.Distinguishable quarters. Adjacent to the parks, there are the quarters of thecity itself. These consist mainly of urban blocks with a distinguishing identity.One such example is the Rembrandt quarter which has prominent charac-ter. These quarters are enhanced through the strengthening of their relationwith the Singelpark.5. Maximum diversity
27To experience a park pleasantly one should be able to rely on their intuition.In product design intuitive use and navigation is a must – in landscapedesign it should be too. It is worrying to see how quickly the most beautifulplaces on earth become cluttered with all sorts of signs and information.Not the Singelpark: it boasts a different concept about how people canmove through the park and how they can obtain, process and generateinformation. All of this packed in a beautiful setting.Park feeling. A route through a park is a logical and self-explanatoryelement. One does not want to lose the path in a housing block or shoppingstreet. The presence of the Singelpark should be felt at all times. In theSingelpark all routes are constantly accompanied by water or nature.Follow the water. The main path should have such a clear course that literallyeverybody can find it, no matter what age, IQ or nationality. To walk theSingelpark one just needs to follow the water. The clarity is strengthenedby making the shores of the Singelpark look completely different than thecanals in the rest of the city, providing them with unique vegetation andstylish hardscapes.House boats. To be able to follow the water means that not all house boatscan stay where they are presently located. That does not imply we suggestrelocating them without considering the consequences: the goal is to offersome of the house boat owners equally attractive alternative locations.Linking park. The Singelpark is more than only the Singels and their shores.It is a ring of independent city parks that the Singelpark links together. Eachof these parks has its own identity, use, and atmosphere. Singelpark’s pathsystem respects that by not passing directly through those parks, but bylinking them to its new routes.Multiple routes. Always adjacent to parks and water, the park supports morethan one route. There is one route that is ideal for running or promenading.This route has is composed of broad boardwalks, major hardscapes, placesto get drinks and dinner. Another route is more quiet and more natural.There is of course also the completed route over the water.Sun or shade. Dutchies like to walk in the sun.Whenever the weather isfit for it, we go out to catch some rays of sun. The route system is in everyway optimized for a sunny experience.When it is too hot outside the routesprovide some shade too. All visitors have a clear choice to walk in the sun, orto walk in a more protected condition.6. Intuitive navigation
28Singelpark 2 x 6,3kmHigh Line 2,3kmBloomingdale Trail 4,3kmHofpleinviaduct 1,9kmScale comparison of linear parks
33Bike and pedestrian ringNo inner ring for the car
34“... de kroon is breed en koepelvormig.De gebogen takken dragen slanke,lange, gele twijgen die recht omlaagNATUREUnlock a spoken explanationof the vegetation in thescenery provided by expertsof the Hortus Botanicus.Der Bedeutungswan-del zu einem „Hof desFriedens“ vollzog...CULTUREThe plays held in theamphitheater are recorded...HISTORYHistoric places will showtheir hidden stories.... so it can be unlocked byvisitors at a later momentand enjoyed again.ACTIVEUse the key to unlock specialfeatures of the objects in the park.Like recording your skate moves.This lock will notice the key,secured under the skateboard.So the skater can view back hismoves.Visitors can play therecorded moves fromthe skatepark.Der Bedeutungswan-del zu einem „Hof desFriedens“ vollzog...CULTUREThe plays held in theamphitheater are recorded...HISTORYHistoric places will showtheir hidden stories.... so it can be unlocked byvisitors at a later momentand enjoyed again.ACTIVEUse the key to unlock specialfeatures of the objects in the park.Like recording your skate moves.This lock will notice the key,secured under the skateboard.So the skater can view back hismoves.Visitors can play therecorded moves fromthe skatepark.Virtual concept: several possiblities of the Key to Discovery
35No signs. The key to a sign-free park is a route system that is obvious and appealing atthe same time. One could say that this route system is curiosity driven, making signsobsolete.Key to discoveries. Each citizen of Leiden gets a key to the park. This key can unlockall kinds of information and interactive applications. The information is dynamic, can bechanged from time to time and can even be generated and shared by visitors.With everyvisit the Singelpark leads to new discoveries.The main purpose of the Key to Discovery is to captivate the Singelpark visitor by unveil-ing what is otherwise invisible, now captured in the virtual layer. The locks can be foundeverywhere in the park. They are a trigger for curiosity driven navigation: “what is behindthis lock?”All citizens of Leiden are handed the key to discover the virtual layer of the Singelpark.By using the key the visitor unlocks locations in the park and they are able to look intothe recent history, historic past, or future of that spot. The locks to these keys are in ef-fect gateways to the virtual layer, in the shape of common objects scattered around thepark, featuring an iconic representation of a lock to seduce the visitor to reveal whateveris there to discover. They are generic, nondescript, general purpose, and they mostlyprovide their content through associated mobile applications. It is only after using the keythat the location unveils its secret.The Key to Discovery encourages visitors to scrutinize the parks and discover experienc-es that are of their interest. Possible themes: Active, Cultural, Historic, Nature. The infra-structure allows a changing program of content. For instance, during the Leidens Ontzetcelebrations, the locks allow discoveries of stories about the historic events.
38Southeast AustraliaSoutheast ChinaSouth AfricaMadagscarArgentinaEast Coast USAGulf of AlaskaEuropeJapanPlant collections from comparable climates will find their way to the Singelpark
39The Singelpark is a place for residents to escape from the dense city. Fortourists, it is a chance to look at the city from a different perspective. Theworld’s greatest city parks – like Central Park or the Emerald Necklace allshow a clear image of nature. In Leiden, this image should be diverse andinternational.Super-natural. The Singelpark is the place to celebrate the presence ofnature deep within the city: the presence of flowers, birds, small mammals,fish and bees in our urban conditions. The key is to make the existence ofnature possible here, to optimize all conditions for abundant flora and fauna.To do so, a new base flora is introduced: one of tall grasses and wild, showyflowers.Botanical Supplier. The Hortus Botanicus is one of the Singelpark gems:its gardens are luscious; the history connected to it is very valuable andappealing. Moreover, the Leiden Hortus is connected to Horti all over theworld, making an introduction of very special species from similar climateand hardiness zones in the Singelpark possible.Botanical Curator. The super-natural Singel and its special gardens ask for akeen eye on its botanical health. The Hortus could act as a Botanical Cura-tor, making sure all the species from all over the world find their way to theright gardens in the Singelpark, with the right conditions. For the Hortus itis a chance to expand their collections and add more public-friendly areas.They can also contribute by sharing knowledge and training volunteers andgardeners.The Green Skyline. A new composition of trees in and around the Singel-park will redefine the skyline of Leiden. As every era added its icons to theskyline of the inner city – churches, windmills, factories – now is the time toadd a composition of giant trees, the tallest we know of. This will make theSingelpark visible from the Burcht in the heart of the city and from many ofthe tall buildings around the center. These trees will grow slowly, specialmeasures need to be taken to improve their growing conditions.Echo Gardens. From façade to façade gets a whole new meaning. A seriesof spectacular gardens on the outer shore of the Singel echo the specialplanting inside the parks around the Singel. They are announcements of thedifferent parks: whenever you see a change in flowering gardens at the Sin-gel, you know something special can be found on the other side.7. Cosmopolitan nature
40High trees on the parts of the Singelpark that are visible from the BurchtEffect on the skyline of Leiden’s inner city
44The cloud of ideas can be funneled by Circles for each park zone.
45Parks are for people and the Singelpark is also by its people. Previousget-togethers showed that there is a large audience and a strong will to getinvolved amongst the citizens of Leiden. Our strategy allows residents to getfully involved in their part of the Singelpark.Living city. The Singelpark is part of Leiden, a lively and vibrant city. Theinner city bustles with life, and so should the Singelpark: alive with people,but also flowers, birds and bees. It’s up to the park to replicate the samespirit that is present in the city center. It is no museum, it is a podium.Breathing space. The Singelpark is one of the oldest city edges of Leiden.Over time, the use and appearance of this city edge changed. In the future,it will continue to, keeping up with its lively users. The Singelpark offersbreathing space for these changes. The park is dynamic!Free space. To give the inner city breathing space not everything shouldbe planned and fixed in the Singelpark at one time. Instead, the Singelparkoffers citizens flexible programming, spaces that can change again in thefuture. The flexible programming allows the Singelpark to be future-proof.Public Circles. In programming the free space, we see a large role forthe community of Leiden. Each individual park within the boundaries ofthe Singelpark has different users and different stakeholders: inhabitants,institutions and companies. They will be involved as much as possible byorganizing ’Circles’. Each Circle adopts a park and selects the most viableprogramming, functions and features for the space; the extensive list thatwas produced by the citizens during the successful brainstorm session is anexcellent starting point. Also the programming of events can be organizedby the Circles.Dynamic phasing. The Singelpark Circles and the ring allow for a dynamicphasing. The ring could be designed and developed at once. Meanwhile,Circles can be organized and the programming the free spaces of theSingelpark can begin. There is a vibrant Singelpark before you know it!8. Free space
46ptions Slope optionsptions Slope optionsPParking optionsPParking optionsOption: reshuffleOption: parking in between gardens Option: underneath sports fieldsOption: in place of old industrial buildingExisting situation: parking all alongOption 2: parking garagePSlope optionsNegotiation: redistribute parking within a radius of 100m
47Houseboat optionsExisting situation: houseboats occupy water slopesHouseboat optionsOption 1: move elsewhere, enjoy bigger gardenHouseboat optionsOption 2: public path, no gardenNegotiation: redistribute houseboats
48LOLAlandscape designGemeenteLeidencoordinationCompetition phase:had talks with:had talks with:had talks with:had talks with:Future partners: Share and stakeholders: Organizers:Deltavormgroeptechnical designHortus Botanicusbotanical curatorBuiting Adviestree advisorThe IncredibleMachineinformationdesign?Vrienden vanhet SingelparkorganisationCitizens of Leiden,insititutes, companiesone circle of share- and stake-holders per parkFuture sdvisors:
499. Our teamLOLA is an emerging Dutch office for landscape architecture, based inRotterdam.With spot-on ideas and actions based on a combination ofresearch and design, LOLA (LOst LAndscapes) wants to bring new life toforgotten, worn-out and changing landscapes. In doing so, LOLA has anoptimistic and conceptual approach, as well as a fascination for new spatialphenomena. LOLA works for governments, provinces, municipalities andcultural institutions. The office won multiple design competitions and awards,amongst them European Portugal, the EO Wijers competition, the DeltaWater Award and a recent design competition to enlarge a historic park.For each project, LOLA collaborates with specialists that have a crucialrole in reaching the highest quality and best content. For this competitionthe office attracted several advisors, which gave important input for thedeveloped vision. LOLA is intending to involve them as advisors in the future,if this will be selected.Deltavormgroep is specialized in small scaled landscape design, controllingevery detail. They manage to combine realism with conceptual quality inearly stage of the design process. Previous collaborations between LOLAand Deltavormgroep have proven to be successful.The Incredible Machine is a design agency that works on ‘the internetof things’: designs to connect the virtual world to our real one. After twodecades of copying the real world onto the internet, now is the time toenrich our daily environment with the possibilities that the virtual worldoffers.Hortus Botanicus has been more than an advisor; they will be probably beinvolved in the Singelpark longer than any designer. One of their targets isto disclose their collection of plants to the general public: something thatcould be achieved in the Singelpark greatly.Buiting Advies is an ecological consulting firm with a passion for trees. Thefirm offers the necessary knowledge to design with ecosystems and is usedto collaborate with landscape architects. Their contribution is to make surethat the soil, wind, sun and water conditions fit the vegetation and vice versa.