Drentsche Aa Landscape Vision

Revealing landscape qualities

The river basin of the Drentsche Aa, in the northeast of The Netherlands – considered by many to be one of the most beautiful areas in the country – has escaped the wave of post-war land consolidation to be found in the rest of the country. Even so, the area is slowly fragmenting and clogging up. Our landscape plan demonstrates how the drama of the landscape can be brought to life and how the historical layers can be made more visible.


Stroomgebied van de Drentsche Aa, provincie Drenthe


Staatsbosbeheer en Nationaal Beek- en Esdorpenlandschap Drentsche Aa


Theo Spek (Kenniscentrum Landschap, RUG), Hans Elerie, RAAP en NovioConsult Van Spaendonck

Surface Area

30.000 ha

Design Year




The 30,000 hectare Drentsche River Aa area comprises mainly three landscape units: stream valleys, old cultivation mounds, and fields (both heathland and recent transformation to agricultural lands and forests). This structure has become more and more obscure in the last few decades. The amount of forests, trees and shrubs has increased substantially, which is why, for example, the contrasts between large-scale open areas and small-scale closed areas have weakened. Hence the region is gradually losing not only its organizing structure, but also its beautiful dramatic potential.

The landscape plan is based on an in-depth, visual, integrated analysis of the landscape, made in cooperation with historical geographers and archaeologists, and its historical development. That development goes back approximately 6,000 years. Design principles are inspired by all phases of history. The plan is based both on history and on nature values and outlines a solution for contemporary conflicts and dilemmas. The new landscape must be strong enough to accommodate new developments.

The plan is predominantly a design approach and contains a large number of proposals on all scales, each consistent with the others, which accentuate the landscape and improve the legibility of the historical elements. Using a number of trial projects, a provocative perspective on the future is presented in which new developments are envisaged in a powerful and pro-active landscape.

Berno Strootman has been awarded the Harry de Vroome medal for the landscape plan.

Related projects