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For years, the village of Havelte in Drenthe did not have a recognisable and attractive village center. In a close collaboration with the village community, an intensive participatory planning process has been gone through in order to achieve a total metamorphosis of the central Piet Soer Square. This formed the basis for the redevelopment plan that NOHNIK has designed and elaborated on behalf of the municipality of Westerveld. The plan has given the square’s site quality a strong boost. The Dorpsstraat, that has cut directly through the square for a long time, has been moved towards the side of the square, so that the central space on the square could be enlarged. The car has been given a less dominant position and will mainly be using the edges of the square. In the middle of the square a spacious and sheltered place to stay has been created, surrounded by a sturdy green ‘collar’. This green collar consists of gently sloping mounds with natural planting of Polypodium and grasses which refer to the moraines landscape of the Havelterberg.

A diverse range of trees provides a varied image throughout the seasons. The slopes are bordered by a natural stone seating edge that forms an informal grandstand on the square. This has created pleasant places to stay and there are possibilities for organisation of small-scale events. A large amount of green has been created in the public space near the shops and existing terraces have been enlarged for example. In addition to the planting, the spacious wooden benches add to the inviting character of the various areas to stay.

The floor of the square has been given a deviating materialization compared to the adjacent roads. This is to clarify the distinction between pedestrian areas and traffic areas. In floor of the square a special accent has been added. The historical flight route (Amsterdam – Batavia in 1933) of aviation pioneer Piet Soer has been made legible in the form of a line in the street pavement. Along the line, all places where a stopover was made at the time, special brass marking plates were placed. With this the cultural-historical significance of the square has received more explicit attention. At the same time the line is the main drainage for the square.

With the redesign of the square, a conscious choice has been made for a look that suits the more modern buildings on and around the square, as a contrast to the historic village green elsewhere in the village. With the redesign of the Piet Soer Square, Havelte has gained an attractive village center for residents and visitors and the square forms a good business climate for entrepreneurs. In addition, the square has been made fully climate-adaptive by installing a separate sewer system to prevent flooding. Next to that, 50 new trees also provide pleasant shaded places and a wide variety of perennials contribute to increasing biodiversity.

Year: design 2017-2019
Type: public space design
Client: municipality of Westerveld
Size: 11.500 m2
Status: constructed, opened May 2019
Partners: Dorpsgemeenschap Havelte, Citeg
Photography: Nadine van den Berg