Urban Forest Almeerderhout

Almere, NL

Type Development Plan
Design 2019-2020
Construction 2022-2025
Location Almere, The Netherlands
Size 1400 ha
Client Gemeente Almere, Staatsbosbeheer
I.c.w. OAK consultants, BRAND The Urban Agency, Buiting Advies
Team Eric-Jan Pleijster, Mark Spaan, Simon Verbeeck, Martin Garcia Perez, Francesco Prete

The future of the city is a forest. In this age of climate change and resource depletion, we desperately need forests to provide us with clean air and renewable resources, while providing space for populations of animals and birds and giving people the possibility to walk, wander, play and enjoy the beauty of the forest. There is such a forest in Almere, the Netherlands: urban forest Almeerderhout.

Measuring 1400 hectares the Almeerderhout is the largest urban forest of the Netherlands. However, this forest is in a derelict state. Staatsbosbeheer (the state forestry) and the city of Almere share the ambition to transform the Almeerderhout into the urban forest of the future. An urban forest that evolves in parallel with the city’s changing societal needs and contributes to a green and healthy environment. Together with Staatsbosbeheer, the city of Almere, and a group of stakeholders and experts, LOLA landscape architects worked on the Almeerderhout Development Plan.

The Almeerderhout Development Plan is based on a combination of needs, policies and environmental challenges. It beholds more than just programmatic additions and alternative forest management strategies. The Almeerderhout Development Plan places local residents in a central role in the development of the urban forest when it comes to programming and implementation. The Almeerderhout Development Plan will be realized in several phases. The first phase will run from 2022 to 2025 and will include a forest route, the diversification of forest types, new connections to neighbourhoods and two iconic destinations.

1. Merged with the city
Improved connections merge the urban forest seamlessly with the blue green landscape structures of the city and adjacent neighbourhoods. Becoming the forested counterpart of the Weerwater lake, they will be experienced together as one large body of recreational space for the city of Almere and beyond.

2. Enhanced ecological continuity
Direct ecological links to nearby natural areas such as Horsterwold, Weerwater, Gooimeer and Eemvallei activate the urban forest`s central position and potential for ecological continuity. Important local natural areas will be interconnected and improved with more freedom for natural processes. This will result in a continuous chain of `wild forest` linking adjacent natural areas.

3. Innovative identity-based maintenance strategy
Forest maintenance based on identity instead of individual species. Local differences in abiotic conditions of soil and water are the foundation of a new forest management strategy to establish a biodiverse deciduous forest. To achieve this, fragile monoculture forestry ploys will be transformed into diverse and complex forest identities with a strong focus on adaptation to new climatic realities.

4. Iconic forest destinations
The addition of several new iconic attraction points and wonderful destinations will popularize the forest for locals and the rest of the Netherlands. These iconic destinations will reflect core identity characteristics of specific forest zones. Constructed as showcases of aesthetics and innovation they offer unique and spectacular experiences to visitors ranging from land-art to makerspaces to wildlife spotting and more.

5. Connected the one-of-a-kind Almeerderhout Forest Loop
The Urban Forest Almeerderhout consists of several larger forested areas, interconnected by one path: the Almeerderhout Forest Loop. This path is not just one of many: it has a unique design and has its own face: its own material and size appropriate to the city of Almere. If you are on this path, you are in Urban Forest Almeerderhout.