Leiden, The Netherlands
The Dutch city of Leiden introduced a unique addition to Europe’s esteemed collection of green public spaces – the Singelpark. Spanning over 6 kilometres along the former military fortifications, this uninterrupted ribbon of interconnected green havens encircles the most densely built historical center in the Netherlands.
The vision for the botanical city park is ambitious, and places people and togetherness at the heart of the Leiden Singelpark. If it succeeds on a neighbourhood level, it will also draw people from both the inner city and the outskirts. It will, in turn, make Leiden more attractive for visitors from abroad, along with its museums and historical buildings.
Water line loop
The winning proposal for this competition begins at the water line. By transforming both sides of the canal into a continuous loop with natural horticultural strips, the canals will become a sensitive backbone for slow movement through the city. The water loop plays a crucial part in the design, and is given importance by improving the surrounding areas of the water, and connectivity between both sides of the waterline. Sixteen park spaces are linked to the waterline with various defined characters.
The natural atmosphere along the canals will be constructed artificially with the aid of the Hortus Botanicus to create cosmopolitan seed and plant mixes. Diverse flora from all corners of the globe draw links with the different garden characters, stimulating biodiversity growth and research.
The park design is built on the shared principles centred around rich diversity of flora and sense of togetherness. Diversity is important for both the botanical garden as well as its community. The following ten principles are the DNA and foundations of the Singelpark:
- Create one Singelpark
- Take the water as a guideline
- Create exciting routes
- Plants everywhere
- Build a botanical collection
- Work together
- Fortify the Singel areas
- Create meeting places
- Take care of basic amenities
- Design boundaries and transitions to the inner city
The Singelpark in Operation (SiB) is a volunteer-based community that ensures the maintenance of the garden beds, the construction, and maintenance of the botanical city park. There are 6 coordinators and over 70 volunteers that oversee the seasonal activities and programming of the park. Every resident of Leiden should find its place along one of the waterline park sections, where they can relax and enjoy the lush green vegetation.