The zoo of Emmen will be moved to a new location just outside the center. The new entrance building of the zoo will be combined with a new theater. The space in front will be transformed into a new urban square. To the existing buildings around, like the city hall and the shops, the square will serve as a functional and attractive public space and thus fulfill an important central role within the city of Emmen. Both the road and the parking facilities, which are currently located on the ground level, will be moved underground thereby releasing a planning area of 2,3 ha to be designed as public space. Preconditions for the content are an event space in front of the new entrance building/ theatre, much green and a water element. The inhabitants of Emmen have expressed the need for the design to break up the huge area into multiple smaller spaces. People want to relax on the square but also move around and play, they want spectacle but also quietness, romance but also experience. The new square will have to be a lively and a green space, a beating heart for the city. The inspiration for the design is the butterfly: the symbol of the city of Emmen, biodiversity and the connection between the city and the zoo. The pattern on the wing of the butterfly inspired the creation of a gracious paving pattern that forms a calm but dynamic base for the entire square, from façade to façade. The contour of an inner square was added to create functional spaces along the buildings and create a more intimate atmosphere in the middle. Right next to the future entrance building, the upper left side of the square borders a magnificent old forest, which is preserved and articulated by the borders of the square and a sightline along the forest into the landscape behind. As a reference to this landscape, the inner square is elevated here into a big planter richly filled with butterfly-flowers and trees, while in the other corner opposite the new entrance building the inner square is a sunken water element. The edges of the elevated as well as the sunken element are articulated by natural stone borders of different heights, which form versatile sit and play elements. By creating the planting and the water element in the inner square a natural route opens up from the center of Emmen to the entrance building and also two elements are created within the square which offer different atmospheres and human scale. Along this important route there will also be a new information center. All materials used; pavement, grass, flowers and water, follow the butterfly pattern which binds all elements into one square. The pavement exists of marbled natural stone of different sizes in a directionless bond. The color varies from sandy to red-brown as a reference to the sandy soils in the area of Emmen. The color differences within the paving are used to visualize the butterfly pattern. The planting of evergreen pine trees also refers to the surrounding area of Emmen, while the blossom trees offer spectacle in spring and give a contrast with the pine trees. The water element offers a cool and attractive place to relax and play in summer and is also a nice and open space which can be used for events for the theatre. In winter people can go ice skating on the water element. The water level in the element is variable because the floor is slightly sloped; this creates a different image after a rain shower. The planting element offers more intimacy with smaller spaces to sit enclosed by flowers. These spaces can be filled with a skating bowl for example or a playground or field for sunbathing, according to the needs and wishes of the inhabitants and visitors. A long pergola filled with evergreen honeysuckle and wisteria along the shops will offer a lovely spectacle in spring.
location: Emmen, Netherlands
year of design: 2013
client: Niek Roozen bv, municipality of Emmen
in cooperation with: Niek Roozen bv, Jacqueline van der Kloet