The growing line

The Westerpark is a collection of different atmospheres: when walking through the park, one experiences old and new, nature and industry, quietness and activity. Nevertheless the park is one entity, which can be extended by adding another ‘world’ to it.

On the northern side of park a row of railway tracks and an old remise will loose their function in the future. This part is chosen to be redeveloped as an extension to the existing Westerpark. It will serve as a new longitudinal addition, connected to a future station (tram/train) and neighbourhood ‘Minervahaven’ which is currently planned to be built. From the northern side of the district a considerable amount of people will start using the Westerpark: for leasure, culture, sports and most importantly – for a quiet retreat.

The existing Westerpark has mainly open and half-open natural parts. Only in very few spots you are surrounded by trees. ‘The growing line’ proposes an urban forest on the abandoned railway tracks. The park is a nursery planted with birch trees. Their white trunks and bright green leaves create a strong interaction with the black, horizontal railway tracks. It is an interaction between colour and orientation, but also between growth and decay.

It is a park that grows slowly in time, in two phases. It starts to grow from the mother track of the abandoned railwaytracks, which used to serve all other tracks. This thin line is planted with one row of trees in the first year, from beginning to the end. When the trees reach a certain height, a parallel row is added from start to end of the track. This process is repeated until the whole width of the park is covered. Seen in a section, the trees of the park are shaped like a wave, from old and tall (next to the mothertrack) to younger and smaller.

When the whole width of the park is filled in, the second phase of the park starts. This is a dynamic cycle, which keeps on repeating itself. When the trees are old enough, they will be replanted elsewhere in the city. By taking them out, row by row, year after year, we start to reshape the ‘wave’. A dynamic and ongoing cycle of planting and replanting started, shifting the rows of emptiness each year. Parallel to the planting of the park, the old train remise will be developed in different phases, too. It contains a nursery (for very young trees), an indoor swimming pool, cultural hotspots and offices. On the most western side of the park, on top of the viaduct, a tram and train station is planned. When constructed (estimated time: 30 years from now) the park will have experienced its first ‘cycle’ and will be fully planted with birches.

Indirectly, the park is about growth and regrowth, about time and decay. It is an experience that will be more prominently felt by people who are visiting the park on a regular basis: they see it grow and change. A walk in the park is like a walk through time. Every couple of years, you see the ‘wave’ move, with long rows of trees being taken out, leaving emptiness in a dense urban forest. Every phase has its own quality. ‘The growing line’ shows the dynamics of a park that grows both in activity but also in the length and width. The result is an ever-changing, dynamic urban forest.

In samenwerking met: Valentina Chimento, Astrid Bennink.

24 februari 2017