Beautiful Production Landscapes

With its Beautiful Production Landscapes open call, the Fund invited coalitions of provinces, municipalities, area developers, landowners, power companies, network managers, food producers, nature organizations, heritage experts and residents and resident collectives to work with designers on new strategic visions or design proposals for the transition of our production landscape.

The call responds to the fact that the Dutch production landscapes are going to change significantly in the coming years. Extraction from renewable energy sources needs to be scaled up considerably to achieve the European climate targets. The impoverishment of agricultural land and a decline in biodiversity require new forms of food production. In the open call, five themes were formulated which proposals could link up with:

- cultural heritage of the production landscape;
- landscape-inclusive energy transition;
- production, storage and distribution of energy as system design;
- food production;
- local support.

Check out the text for the open call here
(in Dutch only).
Pleasease note: the open call is closed. Proposals could be submitted up to 20 September 2021.


Parcelling out Forelands of Binnenwaard | Bureau Peter de Ruyter

In Alblasserwaard, the largest meadow in the Netherlands, Bureau Peter de Ruyter Landschapsarchitectuur is investigating, together with the farmers living there and the Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency, what is needed in order to achieve a broader appreciation of the farmer as a producer of social services in combating climate change. The consequence of land consolidation between the 1950s and 1980s means that to this day, the peaty heart of the Alblasserwaard - the Binnenwaard - in particular, is sinking considerably due to the peat drying out and oxidizing. This also means a substantial emission of CO2. The solution is to retain fresh water from the area and to wet the soil, with increased biodiversity as an additional advantage. An ecologically and climatologically better water system like this, however, has major consequences for the farmers in the area: it crosses all parcels and would require radically different business operations or even relocation. The entire Alblasserwaard would have to be organized differently. Peter de Ruyter is testing this, still theoretical, 'land consolidation 2.0' in practice, by including the social added value of such a revolution in the financing of agricultural land and new earning models for farmers. The agency is thus investigating what a possible regional fund could do. By means of interviews and a regional workshop, the team will enter into dialogue with farmers, experts, nature organizations and local government bodies. The results will be shared via a publication and podcasts and will provide insight into what is needed for the next phase of this land consolidation process.


Beacon of Sludge | Living Landscapes / Deltascapes

With Beacon of Sludge, Living Landscapes / Deltascapes is investigating how the waste product dredging sludge can be used as a raw material. It is investigating what exactly dredging sludge is made up of and how the dredging industry works by means of cartographic research and fieldwork. Living Landscapes / Deltascapes is working with sludge innovators NETICS, which uses its expertise to generate new mindsets, test substantive proposals, establish contacts and carry out experiments. The team will be further expanded to include three experts in the field of transition challenges, communication and the environment. The research results will be published in a narrative about dredging sludge as an undiscovered resource and how it could be used in various spatial transition tasks. The team will incorporate the results of the landscape study into opportunities and bottlenecks of applied dredging sludge in a map and infographic. Lastly, the team will develop a physical installation entitled 'Beacon of Sludge', which will lay bare the properties of dredging sludge. With the article, map and infographic and the installation, Living Landscapes / Deltascapes aims not only to introduce colleagues, but also a wider audience to the new narrative of the Dutch sludge landscape.


Double Dyke | LAOS Landschapsarchitecten

Double Dyke is a project located between Eemshaven and Delfzijl, with the aim of protecting the hinterland from the sea without raising the primary dyke. A second lower dyke has been constructed behind the primary one. The seawater can flow into the intermediate area between the two dykes in a controlled manner and silt can settle. This intermediate area acts as a ‘living lab’ to allow experience to be gained in saline agriculture and aquaculture. Residual heat from the Google Eemshaven data centre is used to extend the harvest season. The nutrients generated by shrimp farming are a good basis for the growth of seaweed. The seaweed absorbs these nutrients and thereby purifies the nutrient-rich water, which then flows back into the sea. Shrimp farming is combined with solar panels. The applicant is investigating the possibilities of realising an integral, landscape-inclusive approach to shrimp farming, seaweed farming and solar panels in an innovative way and of combining this with the ecological and recreational qualities of the intermediate area. In this way, the quality of the landscape is the medium for this transition between land and water. A transition that is characteristic of this area and has determined the characteristic and cultural value of Noord-Groningen for centuries.


Noordoostpolder Production Landscape | Studio Makkink & Bey

For more than ten years, Studio Makkink & Bey has operated not only from Rotterdam but also from a farmhouse in Kraggenburg in Noordoostpolder, where it set up a studio and design laboratory. From there, it sees how the increase in scale of agricultural businesses in the area is killing off an increasing number of smaller farmers (those with fewer than 36 hectares of land). Through the Noordoostpolder Production Landscape project, the design studio wants to investigate what it would take for these farmers not only to survive but also to flourish by means of agro-ecological agriculture. This makes optimal use of the natural resources and services without damaging them. However, this form of sustainable agriculture is labour-intensive, requiring more seasonal workers in the productive months in and around summer. These workers are mostly from Eastern Europe and are often poorly housed. Studio Makkink & Bey is investigating how, in addition to food, the land could also provide building materials such as straw, wood, hemp and clay for the construction of flexible, moveable 'tiny houses' that offer better shelter. The idea is that at least 80% of the materials for the houses - including furnishings – would come from the land. In this project, three design teams are linked up with three 'small' arable farmers; neighbouring farmers, some of whom are already involved in biodynamic agriculture. Starting from a new vision of nature-inclusive land use, the teams are carrying out research by design into material developments for new building products. They are working with Maatschap de Bruijn, also from Kraggenburg, which is in the middle of a business succession and is looking for sustainable earning models. Expertise from the Louis Bolk Institute, the water board, the municipality and LTO Noord [Northern Agricultural and Horticultural Organization], among others, is also involved. Ultimately, the project should lead to a first development plan for crops, designs for the labourer’s cottage and an estimate of the feasibility.


Peat Food Garden in Vrouwe Vennepolder | Circular Landscapes

On a two-hectare piece of land in the Vrouwe Vennepolder in Oude Ade near Leiden, Circular Landscapes, together with citizens' cooperative Land van Ons, is researching the development of a 'peat food garden'. As a test plot, the garden is part of a larger ‘Polder Lab': a 33-hectare piece of polder land purchased by Land van Ons, where the citizens' cooperative is conducting a ten-year study into new crops and cultivation methods together with Leiden University and the Rijnland Water Board. As part of this, the peat food garden will be used to experiment with unexpected combinations of rewilding and food production via wet cultivation. The choice of crops is part of the design challenge, as is the method for planting and harvesting. The plants will be planted in a natural setting, suited to the specific soil and water conditions. The aim is to establish a self-regulating ecosystem as far as possible, without using artificial fertilizers or pesticides, but with sufficient capacity for serious food production. The method is inspired by the agricultural system of the ‘chinampas', which has been used for centuries in the wet areas of Mexico and consists of a variety of canals and fields. The whole system will be embedded in the landscape and will have both a recreational and an educational function. Lastly, the exploitation - from cultivation to sale - will also be studied. The end result of this first phase is a concrete, flexible design for the peat food garden as a calling card for the Polder Lab, with a revenue model, and with the laying out of the garden having started.


Project Plan Pilot Versailles van het Noorden | West 8

West 8 is working with ZLTO [Southern Agricultural and Horticultural Organization] on the (tree) nursery landscape of the Haaren - Udenhout area; traditionally a small-scale production landscape, with a great variety of landscape elements. Scaling up, competition and innovation, such as new cultivation methods, economical use of water and minimizing the use of pesticides, have changed the way nurseries are run, resulting in a brick and plastic landscape along with all the associated problems. Together with growers and other stakeholders, the team is working on the landscape of the future by introducing a robust landscape framework where, in addition to business operations, there is also room for recreation, ecology and climate adaptation. In early 2021, the first phase of the research by design started, with West 8 exploring the possibilities of the innovative framework and drawing up a strategy for the Haaren-Udenhout cluster. In the second phase, the regional concept design will be applied to a sub-area on the basis of work sessions with stakeholders. The design principles of the landscape framework will be tested in this integral sample design. The growers involved will disseminate their acquired knowledge through channels such as study groups, tree nursery networks and the local ZLTO branch. During the process, (interim) results will be shared via the weekly magazine De Nieuwe Oogst, among others.


Phyto Future | Other Spheres

The production of fossil fuels is often accompanied by the pollution of soil, air and water on and near the industrial sites where production takes place. Soil pollution is traditionally remediated by excavating and cleaning the soil and/or (ground and other) water elsewhere. At the same time, the energy transition poses a complex spatial challenge, as the production of biomass for green energy and industry competes with space for housing, agricultural and recreational facilities. With a view to the energy transition and preventing soil pollution, this research is focusing on the potential of vegetation to clean up heavily polluted areas such as harbours and industrial sites. This technique is called phytotechnology, i.e. planting specific vegetation to extract specific pollutants from the soil. How can industrial areas, which are now being used for the production of fossil fuels, be transformed into scenic, regenerative areas that contribute to the energy transition? The research therefore aims to describe and explore some of these issues, with the result of being able to offer tools for policymakers in the form of a strategic vision or a model for sustainable area development.

Mei it ferline foarút | Werkend Landschap

Mei it ferline foarút is Frisian for 'moving forward with the past'. That is what Werkend Landschap is doing with this project. The design agency draws inspiration from the history of the Frisian landscape and is examining how this Frisian cultural history can be deployed to work on powerful, sustainable and local (production) landscapes that can withstand the odd knock in the near future. The basis of the research by design is a block diagram of the landscape: it summarizes the earlier research into the nine characteristic Frisian primal landscapes in a landscape matrix. Subsequently, this knowledge will be embedded by thoroughly mapping the existing policy field and the players therein. The agency is doing this with a broad coalition of stakeholders, in particular the Frysk Lânskip Oerlis (Fries Landschapsoverleg [Frisian Landscape Consultation], including the province, the Friese Milieufederatie [Frisian Environment Federation], Landschapsbeheer Friesland [Landscape Management] and It Fryske Gea). In this step, the possible services of the Frisian landscape, the (new) products that the landscape provides and the importance of these will be studied. Based on the results, nine strategy outlines will be developed in design workshops: one for each landscape. Finally, two steps will be taken to put the strategy polices into practice. Firstly, a connection will be made with the new European Common Agricultural Policy [CAP], which is currently being developed. A 'CAP Construction Kit' will be compiled that offers opportunities for area development. Secondly, a pilot area will be sought where the partners will work practically on realizing new landscape-inclusive farmland.


Brabant Dune Area | OD205 Stedenbouw en Landschap

From time immemorial, the landscape of the Loonse and Drunense Duinen National Park has been part of an agricultural production landscape: the wild heathland peat was cut back to create the valuable area of drifting sand, where nature and agriculture were strongly connected. Intensification and the scaling-up of agriculture in the National Park’s periphery, in addition to the greater appreciation of the ecological and recreational qualities of the heathland and drifting sand areas, has resulted in both areas now working against each other rather than reinforcing each other. The landscape architects of OD205 therefore joined forces with Stichting Duinboeren, a consultative platform for farmers in the area. They are investigating how cooperation between agricultural companies together and between farmers and other interested parties in the area could lead to new coalitions and future-proof production landscapes. Examples include agroforestry or alternative water management systems using the agricultural landscape as a water buffer. In this regard, the team is starting out from three perspectives: that of the productive landscape (farmers and entrepreneurs), the experienceable landscape (visitors and residents) and the natural landscape (nature management and systems). In a co-creative process, knowledge will be exchanged with the dune farmers in so-called Dune Workshops, new ideas and structures will be developed and outcomes refined in order to ultimately arrive at a broadly supported Future Perspective for the Brabant Dune Area 2050. Dune Workshops will involve a very diverse group of organizations, such as local and regional government bodies, water boards, nature organizations, experts and entrepreneurs in the area - including the Efteling theme park. The research process will be shared by means of interim exhibitions, among other things, and the Future Perspective will be set out in a publication.


New Opportunities for the Oude IJssel | SMARTLAND Landscape Architects

SMARTLAND Landscape Architects states that a lot of good proposals for improved, sustainable and circular production landscapes have been drafted by landscape architects in the Netherlands in recent years. However, what they have noticed is that they are often not actually implemented for technical and financial reasons or because of societal resistance. SMARTLAND's New Opportunities for the Oude IJssel project is going to examine five of these plans to determine exactly why they stalled and to learn lessons from this. It will then apply these lessons to its own specific research in the Oude IJssel region in Gelderland in order to translate them into an approach that leads to practical steps for the necessary sustainability transition of the production landscape there. The designers already have a broad network in this area based on previous research. They are working with the Oude IJsselstreek Municipality, local design agency Nico Wissing and the agro-economic experts of Delphy from Wageningen. After having analyzed the existing plans and their obstacles first, a strategic approach for the Oude IJsselstreek Municipality will be formulated in a series of area sessions with a broad sounding board group, including many regional municipalities, farmers, residents' organizations and representatives of LTO [Agricultural and Horticultural Organization] and local small and medium-size enterprises. This will result in a well-founded, but above all widely supported and therefore workable advice for this municipality as the central municipality in the greater Oude IJssel region. This widely supported vision of the future will then be translated into an effective, step-by-step development strategy, and may also be used as a possible starting point for an integrated plan for the entire region.


New Energy for the Bulb Region | Generation.Energy

Design and consultancy firm Generation.Energy is investigating the possibilities of linking the energy and agricultural transitions in Zuid-Holland's Bulb Region. In this there are five important themes around this challenge: salination, a decline in biodiversity, the preservation of a unique landscape with the associated tourism, and the need for clean energy. In New Energy for the Bulb Region, the agency is working with the Holland Rijnland Region, the Rijnland Water Board and the municipalities in the area on research by design to explore how generating solar and wind energy could accelerate the sustainability transition of bulb areas. The team states that a lot of research in this field is done at plot level, but that more opportunities and combinations of functions can be defined at a higher scale level in this area. In the first phase of the research, the focus lies on the five themes, both individually and combined. For example, the water system cannot be seen separately from biodiversity and a future-proof flower and bulb-growing industry is always related to tourism. Through analyzing existing studies and work sessions with the partners, the first opportunities, threats and building blocks will be identified and tested. In the second phase, five development strategies will be elaborated: for each theme, a separate study will be carried out which will demonstrate what it would mean for the bulb-growing area if that theme gets the most attention. It is an exercise in extremes: how can as much productivity as possible be developed within one theme, and what landscape and spatial image will arise as a result? The development strategies will be elaborated in workshops with the partners and shared in a publication and will form the basis for follow-up research.


The Headstrong Farmer | Nienhuis Landschapsarchitectuur

Arjan Nienhuis, Pieter Veen and Steven van Schuppen are carrying out research by design into the opportunities for nature and landscape-inclusive agriculture in the IJsselvallei. A characteristic feature of the valley is the strong, historical interwovenness of the inner and outer dyke area, which has diminished over the centuries but is still relevant enough to explore and strengthen in a spatial and hydrological sense. The starting point is a changed water system that is also running dry. Which range of landscapes, forms of use and production landscapes fit the transition challenge involved in this? On the basis of round-table discussions with the IJssel Administrative Policy Team (ABT), various experts and farmers and farmers' organizations, they want to streamline the proposal, the coalition and pilot locations.


Spatial Design Action Programme
The Open Call Beautiful Production Landscapes is part of the Spatial Design Action Programme 2021-2024, an incentive programme aimed at strengthening the engagement of spatial design in tackling these challenges and stimulating an integral approach. For four years, the Fund will be an important implementing partner of this programme, an initiative of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.