How we found the "Genius Loci" of the new park in Nieuwkoop

March 21, 2022

When we develop a new park, we don't mindlessly start building something. We want to get to know the environment. Because we are curious. We don't want to be the ones doing something because it has been that way for years.

That is why we look for the 'genius loci' in a new location: the soul of a place. That helps us to develop a project in such a way that it blends into the environment. That way, the experience of our guests does not stop at the edge of our park, but continues throughout the entire area. This time we would like to tell you how we are developing the Genius Loci of the new park that we are developing in Nieuwkoop.

What makes the Woerdense Verlaat near Nieuwkoop so special? Is it nature with its old Dutch polder landscape, the rich cultural history or is it the old crafts? What did history bring and to what extent is daily life in the 22nd century still connected to it? By looking around and being curious, we found the answers that help us find the soul of the place: the genius loci.

The environment: peat and fauna

The "Nieuwkoopse Plassen" were created by an interplay of people and nature. In the 10th century, cities in Holland grew rapidly, requiring a lot of peat. The peat soils around Nieuwkoop were excavated and the area changed into an environment with vast ponds with long, narrow islands; the "legakkers".

In addition to open water, you will also find reed land, flower-rich grassland, peat heath and swamp forest. In the area itself there are plenty of opportunities to discover the lakes, spot birds and admire the beauty of nature.

This environment gets a story from the first genius loci theme: Peat & Fauna.

History: Masters of Hague School

In the 19th century, paint in a tube was invented and artists went out into nature for the first time with an easel and canvas. The "Nieuwkoopse Plassen" and the surrounding villages were discovered around 1880 by painters of Hague School. Impressed by this place, they tried to keep this secret from other artists and the place was nicknamed "The light of Nieuwkoop".

The famous paintings show untouched, typically Dutch landscapes, full of water, reeds, clouds and farms.

This beautiful visible history forms the basis for our second genius loci theme: Masters of Hague School.

History and craft: The blacksmith's secret

From the 14th century, there was a great demand from the trading city of Amsterdam for ironwork for whaling, fishing and agriculture. Due to the direct water connection between Nieuwkoop and Amsterdam, the blacksmiths were able to quickly dispose of their wares. Nieuwkoop's craftsmanship in metalworking became a household name. The craft is still alive in Nieuwkoop with a tangible reminder of the Forge Museum, located in the very last authentic forge in Nieuwkoop.

This craft becomes visible in the new park, as it is the basis for the third genius-loci theme: The Blacksmith's Secret.

These three themes form the pillars of the way we develop. The architecture inside and out, the menus in the restaurant, the toys in the playground and the colors on the wall: the nice thing about working with the genius loci is that it helps us to be creative and to connect with the place where we live and work.

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