19 maart 2012: Elf ‘guiding principles’ voor ontwerp Singelpark

Elf ‘guiding principles’ voor ontwerp Singelpark

Binnenkort komt de jury voor de internationale ontwerpwedstrijd voor het Singelpark voor het eerst bij elkaar. Zij zal uit een longlist van gemeente en Stadslab de bureaus kiezen die worden gevraagd om met ideeën/ontwerpen te komen voor identiteit en samenhang in het Singelpark. De bedoeling is dat de bureaus deze zomer hun voorstellen presenteren aan jury en publiek.

Als Stadslab-team Singelpark hebben we elf uitgangspunten opgesteld die de ontwerpers kunnen gebruiken. Deze richtlijnen zijn een samenvatting van de ruim 500 ideeën die naar voren kwamen tijdens de brainstormavond, via e-mail, Twitter en mondeling. Daarnaast verwijzen we de bureaus voor inspiratie door naar de complete lijst met ideeën per thema, reeds te vinden op deze blog (wordt nog vertaald naar het Engels). We hebben de uitgangspunten en de complete lijst met ideeën ook aangeboden aan de gemeente ten behoeve van het uitvoeringsprogramma.
We zijn heel benieuwd naar de voorstellen waarmee de bureaus gaan komen en welke van de vele goede ideeën ze daarin zullen verwerken. Daarna moet het échte werk pas beginnen, als de ideeën/ontwerpen verder worden uitgewerkt. Daarvoor willen we graag weer een beroep doen op alle meedenkers! Hieronder de complete tekst van de ‘guiding principles’.

11 Guiding principles for the Singelpark design

  1. 1. Living breathing lung for Leiden

The Singelpark should be an open GREEN space.

The park should be a continuous green park encircling Leiden?s city centre, providing residents the room to breathe in the most densely built city in The Netherlands. There is currently a lack of significant parks and gardens within the centre, despite Leiden?s rich horticultural history. (Leiden has the oldest and arguably the most important Hortus Botanicus in The Netherlands. This botanical garden was built in 1593 and is located along the Singelpark).


  1. Of the people and for the people (of Leiden!)

The Singelpark should be first and foremost a park for all the residents of Leiden.

The park is for all ages, all cultures, all interest groups and everyone else who lives, works and visits the melting pot we call Leiden. The park should be such a highlight that tourists will not leave Leiden without visiting the Singelpark. And in order to guarantee the continuing high quality throughout the years, we are in the process of forming the Friends of the Singelpark Foundation which will work together with the City to manage and maintain the Singelpark in the future.


  1. Without the ?Singel? there is no ?park?

The 6 kilometre-long BLUE ?singel? should be the leading element within the GREEN Singelpark.

No other city in the world still has a canal of this size around its historic city centre. We are proud of the water in our city and use it all year long: we swim, we sail, we skate and we enjoy watching others doing the same. There should always be a chance to experience the water along the entire park, either visually or physically.

  1. Rings, routes and round trips

There should be numerous short distance and long distance options around the Singelpark.

The Singelpark is the only space in the city centre where one can find a long continuous stretch of recreational (green) space. We love the idea of being able to simply follow our noses for six kilometres while walking, running, cycling, (inline) skating and sailing a ?rondje Singels? (a round trip).  Connections and bridges will be needed in some areas to complete the entire route and there should be possibilities for smaller routes which combine the park experience on both sides of the ?singel?. Numerous theme routes (e.g. history, culture, nature, sport) could also combine the activities available in and outside of the city with the park and invite visitors to discover the rich history of our ?singels?.

  1. From façade to façade

The Singelpark should stretch from the façade on the inside of the ?singel? to the façade on the outside of the ?singel?.

It is essential that the water itself is the centre of the green space we will call Singelpark. This approach respects the character and history of the ?singel? and will provide room on both sides of the water for promenades, green, recreation and circulation of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

  1. The park trumps traffic

Where park and (motorised) traffic meet, the design of the park should prevail.

The car is welcome in the park but should behave as a guest. There are a number of locations along the route where traffic in and out of the city must cross the Singelpark. This is not a problem but deserves extra design considerations in order to provide a safe environment for pedestrians without compromising / breaking the character of the park. The Singelpark should act as a green boundary between the low-traffic historic city centre and the outskirts.

  1. Unravel and reveal Leiden?s rich history

Leiden?s history is based around its ?singels? and city centre and the Singelpark should tell its compelling story.

Leiden was once the most important city in Holland, and Leidenaren love to share their history. History is, above all, change. There are treasures to be discovered along the route and stories to be told where layer upon layer of historical gems have transformed Leiden into the city it is today. A ring around the entire city centre is a perfect opportunity to tie it all together. Also, the park itself must respect the historic transformations that shaped the former defensive line in the course of time.

  1. Singelpark as connection instead of barrier

The relationship between the city centre, the water and the neighbourhoods outside the ring should be strengthened with the introduction of the Singelpark.

The Singelpark is not an edge between the city centre and the outskirts, but a connection between the two, with the water as the focal point and uniting factor. The?singel? belongs to both sides and the park, with its own character, should not be seen as a separate Leiden entity but an element that enhances Leiden as a whole. The designer is challenged to give form to the relationship between the physical, historical and social character of the city centre on the one side and the neighbourhoods on the other. Also there should be connections to nature (green and blue) outside of town.

  1. It is one ?single? park, but not an amusement park

The park should provide spaces to accommodate permanent activities, occasional activities, spontaneous activities and no activities at all.

We have more ideas than we have acres of park. However, we do not want the Singelpark to become one big amusement park. It should be above all a park. The design should be one continuous identifiable park where various functions / activities / spaces can occur over the entire length, with enough room in between to simply provide green and relaxation for the residents and visitors. There should be places where activity is concentrated AND places of contemplation. There should be areas with designated functions AND areas with room for spontaneous activity.

  1. Singelpark as a brand

The design of the Singelpark should be so strong and identifiable that it can become a marketing tool for further funding, awareness and support.

To reach the level of quality we envision for the Singelpark, we will need additional funding. Potential investors will only invest if they know about the Singelpark, believe in its potential and are enthusiastic in sharing the dream of realising it. The longest, most beautiful and most exciting city park in The Netherlands, located along the largest intact city fortifications of Europe, is a start. But the design needs to convey this message in its ambitions, quality and unique design. This is why we have to work on the Singelpark as a firm and inspiring brand, with its own visual identity, publications etc. Ideas in which the design and the design process itself can support our brand building and fund raising efforts are encouraged.

  1. Make us proud!

The Singelpark is an unique opportunity to boost the liveability, attractiveness and physical quality of the city now and in the future.  We believe that a great Singelpark design can be a major turning point in the attitude towards city development in Leiden. A number of large ?ambitious? projects die in the planning stages because of a lack of money, management and/or social support. Building the Singelpark is more than building a park: we will be building city-wide pride, self-consciousness, social cohesion and confidence that it is possible to achieve ambitious, unique and high quality projects in Leiden!