‘In a nutshell, our approach to making public spaces greener involves fewer parking places on the street, more room for pedestrians, and more plants’, explains Beukema. Because so much is still being developed at the moment, the public spaces are being tackled in phases. ‘One example of that is the landscaping of the mini-park in December, in front of Amsterdam UMC, VUmc location. This time, it was the turn of Van der Boechorststaat, between the medical faculty and the Kinderrijk childcare centre.’
Seize the opportunity
The move was actually prompted by the recent work laying and updating the cables and pipes underneath this street. Beukema: ‘That allowed us to seize the opportunity and immediately give this eastern side of the street its new, green landscaping.’ Parked cars are making way for flowers, plants, and trees and the grass next to the footpath is being landscaped to create a green and friendly street.
With fellow designers Marja van den Brink and Ruben Giessen, Beukema put the finishing touches to the street design in 2020. The problem was not the design in itself, but the type of planting to use. ‘We envisaged a green blanket that changes with the seasons and adds colour to the street’, says Beukema. But the plants need to be able to achieve that. ‘We decided to mix different plants together in different places, with the exact choices determined by the location. As a result, there will be some sections with plants next to the road that can withstand salt from gritting, green sections with plants that need a lot of sun and other sections with plants that thrive in shade.’
The mixture of plants and trees that will be visible from the summer of 2021 consists of various types of shrubs (alemanchier and cornus), tulip trees, alder, grasses, asters, and anemones. Beukema: ‘Despite the diversity, they still form a unified look. It will also all become even more beautiful over the years because some plants take longer to reach maturity.’ The work on Van der Boechorststraat is not yet finished. ‘Amsterdam UMC – VUmc location aims to develop further over the next three years and it’s a case of waiting until that has been done. After that, we will apply a similar approach to the western side of this part of Van der Boechorststraat. This will ensure that our public spaces gradually become more attractive.’ The landscaping of Van der Boechorststraat is all part of a bigger plan for a greener Zuidas.