Downtown Kosice

Well hidden among the communist era apartment blocks of Kosice, you will find a beautiful historic heart in the second largest city of Slovakia. The main street, Hlavne Namestie, is an axis that cuts through the medieval centre from north to south, clustering churches, shops, restaurants and theaters.

A tiny canal in the middle of the street divides and creates more space as well as it connects both sides through little bridges. On both sides of the canal, old tram tracks are left. Next to the tracks, there are biking lanes, well used by bicyclists and skaters. Between the biking lane and the facade of the old but renovated buildings along Hlavne Namestie, a huge space is left for pedestrians and outdoor seating of cafes and restaurants.

The difference in material of the different areas of the street clarifies the separation of functions. Between the tracks next to the canal, cobble stones are laid out while the bike lanes have a plane surface and the pedestrian area is covered with large, grey tiles.

Sight lines are also strengthened on Hlavne Namestie. The canal for example runs straight to the theatre building, standing in the middle of Hlavne Namestie. A row of trees and benches in the pedestrian area divides it in a part for outdoor seating and for strolling along shops.

Clearly, this design fits Kosice. Hlavne Namestie has a cosy, vivid atmosphere, with many inhabitants strolling around, sitting on benches or drinking beer on one of the outdoor seatings. Also, Kosice is going to be the European Capital of Culture in 2013 together with Marseille, so the city is definitively worth a visit.

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Dutch landscapes

If you take your bike and drive 30 km to the west from Amsterdam through the lovely city of Haarlem and over beautiful (but way to steep) dunes with peacefully grazing sheep, you’ll end up at the North Sea.

That’s what I did last week, though the trip became a bit longer due to confusing cycle road signs. But the reward of sitting on the beach and eating ice cream made it worthwhile.

Nature reserve between Zandvoort and Bloemendaal aan Zee

Beach at Bloemendaal aan Zee

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Catching up

Since it was two months ago I wrote my last post, I reckon it’s time for an update. Spring and even summer have come to town, although today more feels like autumn. I’ve seen a lot of interesting things in the past two months and want to show some, so have a look!

During an excursion with the Academy, we visited the roof of Amsterdam, Westerdok, a densely built innercity area. A very unusual experience since the Netherlands are so flat and I’m not used to being on the top of (relatively) high buildings.

Late March, we visited some really interesting sites in the Ruhr area around Duisburg. This is real industry. Ha. After that weekend though, I have seen enough steel for the rest of my life.

We had a nice excursion to the Westerpark in Amsterdam with the Academy to learn about trees and plants and how to use them in landscape architecture.

Then, I spend a really nice weekend in Stockholm filled with golden buildings, green parks, beautiful flowers, vegetarian barbecuing, fancy trams and Belgian waffles at the Museum of Architecture.

For the past week, I’ve been busy finishing my second project at the Academy that has to be presented tonight. So… fingers crossed!

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A new town… and a new season

The tradition of interesting excursions at the Academy was continued with a visit to the new town Almere. This community was built 35 years ago on brand new land in the inner sea IJselmeer. Situated not far from Amsterdam, it soon became a place to move people from the overcrowded capital region, even though the new land was built mainly for agriculture to strengthen the food production in the Netherlands.

And Almere is still expanding. The town consists of different cores, all dating from different periods.

Almere shopping district.

Rowhouses on both sides of the road with playgrounds in cages between the roads.

Sustainable housing in Scandinavian style.

Spring in Almere.

Enormous new quarters are being built in Almere.

Affordable, personalized row houses.

For the record: today I didn’t need gloves while biking and I did put my winter coat away!

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Strolling with friends

Terrace along the river

The docks around the new MAS museum (opening in May 2011)

Happiness at “Het Geluk”

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A new city on the roofs of the old one

Spending too much time looking at aerial views on Google Maps led to a funny insight: we could create another city, on top of the existing one. Just like in this picture of Rotterdam above. Green roofs isolate, create better water flows and strengthen biodiversity. Beside the ecological benefits, they could have recreational values as well.

The sketches below illustrate this concept for the Noorderlaan, a street through the harbour area of Antwerp, where a lot of industrial and commercial buildings have enormous, flat roofs that are perfect to create parks, gardens, … on. It would be an invisible city for the people walking on the street, only visible from an aeroplane.


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Fun things in January and February

Belgian beer at De Brakke Grond

biking with shoe laces that are way too long

cooking German food

lovely coffee cups

art installation at De Theaterschool

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