Martijn Franssen

Employee portrait

'We have to approach spatial quality in an integrated manner'

Martijn Franssen is group leader for the Landscape Architecture and Heritage group – relatively speaking, a modest discipline when he started at Witteveen+Bos several years ago. Now, he and his colleagues are indispensable, what with the extensive and complex challenges facing rural areas.

Landscape design

‘My father’s an architect, my mother a botanist. As a landscape architect, I’ve ended up more or less in the middle. I came to Witteveen+Bos twelve years ago, after working at a monodisciplinary landscape architecture firm. Landscape architecture was still a young discipline then – I only had one colleague. We did a lot of missionary work together, though, and now it’s an integral part of many projects. A bridge doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s part of a landscape that has a history and people. More and more value is being placed on landscape design and spatial quality, which is why we prefer to get in as early as possible on projects we contribute to.’

Rural areas transition

‘Major challenges are facing rural areas. The quality of nature, soil and water has to be restored, agricultural emissions need to be reduced, and liveability must be maintained. This calls for a redesign of our landscape with a focus on spatial quality. For the Province of North Holland, we’re currently investigating options for the transition of two peat polders north of Amsterdam. The challenge is to create a sustainable water system in which nature thrives but which also offers prospects for farmers. An interesting but tough process, as the landscape of these peat polders has a centuries-long history. You can’t ignore that. We can no longer solve the existing problems by making small changes; we have to make big ones. That’s always going to mean that someone suffers.’


‘We have to approach spatial quality in an integrated manner – not just internally, externally too. Partly for this reason, we’ve started a traineeship together with WING, the Vallei en Veluwe water authority, and H+N+S. Trainees are given a behind-the-scenes look at each organisation. We also do projects together, stimulating young designers to come up with creative solutions to today’s problems. The trainees aren’t the only ones who benefit; we learn from it too. Traineeships are new for Witteveen+Bos. Who knows? Maybe more will follow.’