Contemporary historical experience, surrounded by nature
With the redesign of the Nijenborgh Castle Park, the city of Weert is regaining an accessible, lively and green heart. A place where the experience of physical and immaterial history, archeology and heritage education are given a well-deserved prominent place. Integrated with a climate proof design and an impuls for biodiversity. A place to relax and play, exercise and learn. For young and old, for residents and tourists, for plants and animals.
The park as the origin of the old city
The Castle Park is an inseparable part of the history and development of Weert. With the redesign of the park the historical story is being told again. The park is situated at the site where the noble Van Horne family built the castle ‘De Nijenborgh’ in the middle of the fifteenth century. The castle complex exists out of two parts with a formal character: a main castle (where the Van Horne family stayed) and a forecourt (the place where the visitors were welcomed). The moat provides cohesion and unity in the area and forms the basis for the new city park, together with parts of the reconstructed brook ‘Weerterbeek’. The more informal “fields” are located around the castle island.
Forecourt as the heart of the park
On the spot where a timber trader was located until the end of 2019, the forecourt and moat are made visible again in a contemporary way. This is the heart of the park, surrounded by 3m high hedges. Arches and openings in the hedges provide sight lines to historical elements and objects. The forecourt has room for all kinds of activities and functions. It is a lush and green space in the heart of the city, with a formal and diverse garden and a pavilion. Lines in the nature stone pavement refer to the historic layout of the buildings that were situated on the forecourt centuries ago. Archeological research and findings were the inspiration for the design.
The equestrian statue of ‘Philips de Montmorency’ (a citizens’ initiative) is given a central place and fulfils an important educational role. The pavilion on the forecourt is made from the old frames of the timber trader building. It is used as a space for research or exhibitions of history and archeology, and as a stage for activities and performances. New paths and bridges connect the forecourt with the rest of the park and provide an attractive experience of the castle and the moat. The greening of the area and the removal of the asphalt at the same time provide more coolness and better water management.
Lush fields and a deck at the moat
The part of the park surrounding the castle’s moat is characterised by sunny lawns and lush groups of trees. A network of gravel paths is gently meandering through the area, with new and comfortable wooden benches alongside the paths. Within the lush green fields, space is created for sports and games, sitting areas and an orchard at the ‘Tiendschuur’. A new deck at the embankments of the castle moat forms an attractive place at the water, with views to the castle and new forecourt.
The green structure is enriched, providing more biodiversity and habitats for flora and fauna. With this we actively invest in urban nature and strengthen ecological life in the city. In addition, the water system and water quality are improved, for example in the castle moat. Water storage also received attention by improving the soil structure and increasing the water storage capacity. Reconstructing the vanished brook ‘Weerterbeek’ contributes to this.
Park and city reconnected
Three new bridges together with the existing castle gate and attractive walking routes, provide a better connection between the park and the city center. By adding extra entrances to the park and making the existing entrances more interesting, the park became more accessible. The entrances are accentuated in the pavement material by using large concrete slabs, combined with nature stone details.
The new bridges are designed by NOHNIK as well. They cross the 20 m wide water without any supporting pillars. By this, the historic structure of the castle’s moat will not be visually disturbed. One of the bridges has an extraordinary design. The deck is like a mirrored arch, leaning towards the water surface. Surrounded by old chestnut trees, the visitors are provided a unique experience of the moat and old castle wall.
Copyright all images: NOHNIK architecture and landscapes
In collaboration with: Lara Voerman Architectural historian and Personal Architecture
Type: public space, cultural heritage, participation, landscape, bridges
Client: Municipality of Weert
Size 32.000 m2
Status: finished and opened June 2022