Strootman Landscape Architects: A new offices complex has been built along Eusebiussingel in Arnhem which was designed by Pi de Bruin (Architekten Cie) and Royal Haskoning. The building is an extension to the existing municipal offices of Arnhem. At the surface level on top of the basement parking garage there are three courtyards: Voorhof, Binnenhof and Expeditiehof. On commission for Eurocommerce Holding BV, we have designed the layout of the Voorhof and the Binnenhof.
In an abstract fashion the layout of the courtyards refers to scenic icons, which are partially taken from the surroundings of Arnhem and partially from other landscapes. For the visitors, that leads both to a recognition as well as to an estrangement and a smile. Abstracted giant pebbles refer to a river beach, pines refer to the Veluwe, a green hillside refers to undulating landscapes, ferns to the forest, ladybirds to sunny fields, and a ‘white-picket- fence’ to horse ranches. The scenic references cause the visitors to conjure up thoughts about other places and offer an opportunity to distance oneself somewhat from the delusion of the day.
We perceive the Voorhof as an ‘urban lobby’: a representative place with a special atmosphere, where you take a seat for a short while before going inside or where you make appointments with others. During the day the Voorhof is accessible to the public via a high portal and a fancy gate. The paving comprises a designed cobbled panel of dark grey concrete (2.00 x 1.30 m), which is filled with stone chippings that ensures a beautiful contrast of texture. The colour of the stone chippings is grey-green and has the same shade as the natural stone slabs on the façades of the surrounding building. Variously sized dome-spots in the flooring bring about a cloud of little highlights in the evenings.
The Binnenhof has been fitted-out softer and greener than the Voorhof. This place has been fitted-out like an ornamental garden and is a pleasantly habitable place for employees. This is the heart of the building, which already draws attention from the entrance hall due to the large green hill. From a weight-saving point of view the grass hill is made of polystyrene blocks with a covering layer of soil.
Cheerful mowing robots which look like ladybirds, guarantee a perfectly maintained lawn and provide a very special scene to look at. A white wooden fence has been placed around the hill. Incorporated in this fencing are parking spaces for 20 cart-seats, which look like they are part of the fence. The cart-seats are panelled stone wheelbarrows. Visitors can pick up a cart-seat and drive to their favourite spot. After use, the cart-seats are placed in their storage racks again. The same paving has been used around the grass hill as for the Voorhof. In some spots the cobbled panels are not filled with stone chippings but with ferns.
In the Voorhof a large red seating element has been placed, which also acts as a tree basin. The seating element measures approx. 12.5 x 7.5 m and is made of polystyrene with a polyethylene coating. The seating element has varying seating profiles, in which one can sit either straight- up or one can lounge and hang about. The middle of the seating element is filled with soil, in which pines have been planted and when these have matured, they will fill the space of the Voorhof. The soil around the trees has been topped with erect pine cones.
Landscape Architecture: Strootman Landscape Architects
Location: Eusebiushof, Arnhem, The Netherlands
Text & photos: Strootman LA