Our energy system and the way we generate energy must change drastically. A characteristic of fossil energy suppliers is that the majority of the installations (for example pipelines) are situated under the ground. This is in stark contrast with the installations for renewable energy: wind turbines and solar panels are very visible.

The starting point should therefore be that wind turbines are placed as much as possible on the sea and solar panels on roofs instead of in the landscape. It is necessary to see the development of wind and solar energy as an integral design task. As a valuable transition of the landscape with a balance in ecological, economic, heritage and experiential values. By looking more precisely at landscapes and thus discovering which other challenges are involved, smart combinations in land use can be worked out.

Copyright: NOHNIK architecture and landscapes

The peat landscapes in the Netherlands (Dutch ‘veenweide’), from Friesland to the Groene Hart, are specific examples of old production landscapes with a cultural-historical and scenic value, which require a new perspective. Due to soil subsidence the water management in the peat meadow area is more complicated, more vulnerable and more expensive. Subsidence and problems with building foundations occur, and waterlogging and greenhouse gas emissions from the oxidation of peat increase strongly. At the same time, the peat meadow has a great amenity value for residents and recreationists.

Copyright: NOHNIK architecture and landscapes

In this research by design project various perspectives have been developed for the peat meadow landscape. In which the generation of energy is linked to other developments and assignments such as subsidence, rewetting, nature and biodiversity. With the central question: can the energy transition contribute to a new perspective for the problems in the peat meadow area and in what way can the cultural-historical values be a fundament for the design of this perspective?

The base for this was a field study in which various forms and setups of energy generation on a scale of 1: 1 were tested in the field using augmented reality. Reflection with residents, governments and developers made it clear that there is a great need for specific tools for the design of energy landscapes. These tools have been worked out in different perspectives for a fictional peat meadow polder.

Copyright: NOHNIK architecture and landscapes

The perspectives can roughly be divided into three groups: conventional (conventional large-scale generation of wind and solar energy), hybrid variants that seek to link different forms of energy generation with nature, recreation and transitions that are already take place in the landscape, and a perspective that outlines a whole new horizon.

The study focuses not only on wind and solar energy. But also on innovative forms of sustainable energy and land use such as wet cultivation. The perspectives elaborate on the spatial, legal and organisational aspects. In addition, rough calculations were made to provide insight into returns and investments. This gave a broad picture of the advantages and disadvantages, desirabilities and undesirabilities. The perspectives can therefore be helpful for planning processes in the peat meadow.

Copyright: NOHNIK architecture and landscapes

The design research was financed by the Dutch Creative Industries Fund in the context of the program ‘Nieuwe Energie voor het Landschap’ (New Energy for the Landscape).

Year: 2018-2019
Type: design research, landscape
Client: financed by Dutch Creative Industries Fund
Status: research is finished and published
In collaboration with: TNO-ECN, Org-ID