Winner Falco Award Best Dutch Public Space 2013
Above- and underground transformation
The Wilhelmina square is located in the centre of Leeuwarden. HOSPER has been asked to create a layout for the public space of the square and its surroundings. The redevelopment of the Wilhelmina square, situated in between the station and the central shopping area, is the final piece of the project ‘Nieuw Zaailand'. The project consists of the new building for the Fries Museum, a façade of new buildings with shops and apartments and an expansion of the underground parking area. Through these interventions, the square becomes a more intimate space. In addition the Wilhelmina square will also become part of the pedestrian zone. All this provides many opportunities for enhancing the quality of the area and making the square a pleasant place to reside.
In view of the public nature of the place an open planning process was essential to the project. Using 3 models in an online survey, the plan elements were examined to find out which plan could count on the most enthusiasm of the people and users. Based on this public consultation and the official advice, the Council opted for the model Carpet. The centre of the square will be paved with a chic rug made of three types of natural stone clinkers paved in a varied pattern. The carpet is a separate element and mediates between the differences in scale and construction period of the surrounding buildings. The carpet contains LED-lights, drainage lines and small fountains that contribute to the vibrancy of the square during the day and during the night.
The square will be used for the weekly market and is also suitable for large events such as concerts and the fair. The challenge was to accommodate all these various uses in a flexible way whilst retaining an intimate and pleasant atmosphere at the times when the square is not occupied by a specific use. This was the reason to introduce trees on the square. The trees contribute to the secure feeling and the pleasant atmosphere. Multi-stemmed maple trees (Acer saccharum) are sprinkled over the square and protected by large ‘tree benches' of 2 x 5 meters, which also serve as seats and naturally arrange the weekly market.
After a year of intensive use and a multitude of positive comments of both users and visitors we can say that the square is a true asset to the city!