Strootman Landscape Architects, a Dutch firm, transformed a set of courtyards in a conventional office building in Arnhem into an escape for grown ups. There, playful, textural design elements are abstractions of iconic Dutch rural scenes. “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.” In Landezine, Strootman writes that these scenic references offer visitors an opportunity to distance themselves from their day-to-day routine.
The “voorhof” or forecourt functions as an “urban lobby.” Visitors enter here and can take a seat before heading inside for appointments. Within the forecourt, the paving is made up of dark-grey concrete filled with stone chippings. “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.”
A large red outdoor circular seating element acts like a tree basin (see image at top). Made of polystyrene, the seat-sculpture enables visitors to either sit upright or lounge about. Pines planted within the seat will eventually fill the forecourt. Around the trees, pine cones are arranged as a textural element.
In contrast, the “binnenhof” or inner courtyard is designed for employees and has a “softer and greener” feel than the forecourt. An “ornamental garden,” the courtyard features a large green hill made of light-weight polystyrene blocks covered in a thin layer of soil. Strootman adds that they used plastic blocks because trucking in all that soil would have been too costly.
The hill, which is ringed by a white picket fence, also includes “parking spaces” for 20 moveable “cart-seats,” which are “panelled-stone wheelbarrows.” The landscape architects designed the seating to encourage visitors to grab their own car-seat and drive to their favorite location. “After use, the cart-seats are placed in their storage racks again.”
In other news, FASLANYC announced their second annual Waits awards, named in honor of singer and actor Tom Waits. To win a Waits, a project must be “highly tactical and lo-fi, simple and sophisticated, ultimately working to demystify the act of intervening in the landscape.” Read through the winners, which are each matched with a song.
Image credits: Strootman Landscape Architects