Gouvernementsplein

karres+brands: The Gouvernementsplein square lies in the historic city centre of Bergen op Zoom in the Dutch province of North Brabant. Originally a chapel stood there, and later it became a garden connected to the Gouvernements Building. Like most historic Dutch cities, Bergen op Zoom has a network of streets and squares made up of overlapping spaces, usually without formal borders. This spatial organisation, with its interconnected spaces, meanings and conditions, is one of the basic principles of the design. The Gouvernementsplein is not a garden, square, building or street, but is a combination of all of these components of the urban fabric.

The square is organised by means of a single spatial intervention: the folding of the ground surface. This creates a clear route alongside the gables, sunny seating areas, and spaces for terraces and a stage. By adding two grassed surfaces here, as in the historical garden situation, a direct orientation is made towards the Gouvernements Building. The construction work on the square was started immediately on completion of the sketch design. The final design was created in a dynamic process with a team made up of designer, builder, constructer and client. This resulted in new ways of reusing materials, new implementation techniques and a great deal of ‘in situ’ experimentation and prototyping.

Landscape Architecture: karres+brands
Client: Bergen op Zoom City Council
Location: Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands
Area: 1500 m²
Budget: € 400,000
Design: 1998
Construction: 1999
Team: Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Jim Navarro, Annette van Straten, Mirjam Segeren, John Denneman

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