Bisschop Bottemanneplein Haarlem:

Climate-proof and connective

Pursuant to a citizen’s initiative, the Municipality of Haarlem in 2019 initiated a project to renovate the Bisschop Bottemanneplein. In the current situation, the area’s stony character dominates, which does not match the Sint Bavo basilica’s appearance. This is why it was decided to renovate the basilica’s surroundings in order to enhance the area’s spatial quality, and in particular, make it climate adaptive. Witteveen+Bos under contract to the municipality produced the design and also managed the process.

The desire to transform Bisschop Bottemanneplein into a small scale urban park was the starting point. During a participatory evening involving nearby residents, three concepts were presented, each with a different design for the terrain. The concepts included space for vegetable gardens, events or a meeting place with a focus on climate change adaptation, respectively.

The latter initiative in particular caught the imagination of residents. This is why it was decided to focus the design on creating a meeting place. As the creative process progressed, the specifics were reviewed with neighbourhood residents during multiple evening information sessions. The result is a climate adaptive and future-proof park in which every resident feels at home.

Multifunctional Design

The Multifunctional Design principle stimulates the search for multiple functions and a maximum combination of functions that can best be served by the design. The crux is to surprise stakeholders by providing extra functionality and therefore greater added social value through a relatively small design modification. The project takes into account the increasing severity of weather extremes. In the event of heavy rain, the water is captured in the lower-lying field in the centre of the plaza. This wadi (water discharge, drainage and infiltration) forms an important part of the provisional design.

The roofs of the surrounding buildings will also be disconnected from the sewer system. Rainwater will be channelled to the central wadi via surface flows. The wadi specifically serves a double function: for water storage to unburden the sewer system during peak downpours, and it also serves as an aesthetic, spatial and recreative element. For example, this is reflected in the inclusion of a stone walking path in the design. In addition to the Multifunctional Design principle, the Nature-based Design principle also has prominence. In part because the rainwater is slowly infiltrated into the soil due to the landscaped gully.

Participatory Design

Participatory Design means not designing for the local community but with the local community. Because of the increased support base and review with stakeholders, implementation will be more efficient and the design will be a better match with the local community’s wishes.

The renovation of Bisschop Bottemanneplein had its origin in an initiative of active neighbourhood residents. Witteveen+Bos organised multiple participatory evenings in small and larger groups to review the plans with nearby residents and to gather input. This way due consideration was given to everyone's interests and wishes.

Circular Design

The Circular Design principle is about making choices for current and future lifecycles, and closing chains by using resources, materials, residual products and waste streams in the design as circular raw materials. By carefully considering the natural aspects of the surroundings, particularly relating to rainwater discharge, and by integrating these aspects into the design, it became possible to capture thousands of litres of water and to use this water in the environment.

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