Pothoofd apartments | Deventer, the Netherlands | LODEWIJK BALJON landscape architects

Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography

The site was formerly a busy place with warehouses, trains and barges. The new road and the string of buildings move in a light serpentine, responding to the curves of the river. Materials and shapes refer to the industrial past. On the site are transitions in scale and atmosphere: from the wide open river to the dense historic town, from the public road to the apartment buildings, and from the river to the roof gardens.

Credit | Stadsarchief Deventer

Project Scope, Site and Context
The site, between the inner-city of Deventer and the typical Dutch river landscape, was formerly a busy place for transhipment. For the development of apartments an urban plan was made together with the architect. In this plan the road leading to the historic town is moved to create space for a loose ordering of the various buildings. Along the road there are varying views toward landmarks such as the river dike, the bridge and the monumental church tower.

Credit | Crepain Binst Architecture

Design Program
The task was to design 140 apartments in relation to the scale of the intimate historic city on one side, and the open landscape of the river on the other, in combination with a parking garage for the residents and surface parking for visitors. The parking garage could not be build underground due to the closeness of the river dike. The parking is covered with a roof, creating the opportunity for a large garden on top with a direct relation to the river.

Credit | LODEWIJK BALJON landscape architects

Design Intent and Materialization
The light serpentine movement of road and buildings responds to the curves of the river. The border between the road and the site is accentuated by a low brick wall, setting off the slight difference in height, and keeping parked cars out of sight. The parking area and private road on the site are made from cobble stones, traditionally used on quay sides. Stately yew cones in gravel give a distinct green character to the parking and accentuate the entrance areas. The gravel has a light colour, making a pleasant contrast with the dark buildings. The border between gravel and plantings makes another, denser curve. Behind this curve, the atmosphere becomes more garden-like. Clumps of bamboos, serpentines of flowering shrubs (hydrangeas) and perennials (ornamental grasses, geraniums and anemones) in a ground cover of ivy (with spring bulbs) play hide and seek with the walls of the parking garage. The cobblestone paving (partly cut flat in areas that are used by pedestrians and bicycles) recalls the former quay.

Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography

There are several transitions in scale and atmosphere: from the wide open river to the dense historic town, from the public road to the buildings, from the overall complex to the entrance of the separate blocks, and from the individual balcony to the communal garden.

Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography

At the river side, slightly higher than the dike, two large roof gardens on top of the parking garage are created. The gardens are referring to the industrial past when the site was dominated by gravel, tracks and exotic plants growing in lines where seeds were spilled during transportation.

Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography
Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography

The crisscross of large rust brown tiles refers to the chaotic layout of the former rail tracks. Flowerpots are placed as trains waiting in the yard. The open view towards the river is preserved.

Very slender poplars, loosely planted, accentuate the vertical character of the buildings, and embed the complex into the ‘riverscape’.

Credit | Daniel Nicolas Photography

Environmental Concerns
The goal was to transform the former industrial site and create a new entry to the historic city. A grouping of apartment blocks was placed along the river. The planning was an integrated effort of landscape architect and architect. This way the problem of parking, circulation and routing could be addressed. And at the same time attention was paid to outdoor conditions as shade, wind climate, soil treatment and water management.


Having both public and private as clients provided the opportunity to fully develop a sustainable plan as an integral part of the city as well as the river landscape.

Pothoofd apartments | Deventer, the Netherlands | LODEWIJK BALJON landscape architects

Client | City of Deventer combined with Schutte Bouwbedrijf (developer)

Landscape Architect | LODEWIJK BALJON landscape architects

Architect | Crepain Binst Architecture (Belgium)

Engineer Landscape | SmitsRinsma

Image Credits (as noted) and Courtesy of LODEWIJK BALJON landscape architects


About Damian Holmes 3313 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/