STINSPARK ZWOLLE

From gently sloping hill to the coolest park in Overijssel

If there is a park anywhere in the Netherlands in 2040 where history is visible and is at the same time so reticent, it will be the Stinspark in Zwolle. No signs here with texts or videoclips that bring the story of robber barons and a medieval castle to life. In this park it is our design choices, the new landscape structures, vegetation and a work of art as a castle that evoke the relation with the past. What is now an expanse of grass will be transformed by a sustainable, biodiverse programme of plants and trees.

Location

Gemeente Zwolle, Westenholte

Principal

Stichting van Voorst tot Verder

Partners

In samenwerking met Paul de Kort

Design Year

2019 - 2020

Implementation

Gepland voor 2022

The plan of the city of Zwolle to dig a ditch on the land of Castle Voorst at the end of the 13th century provoked a bitter conflict. It cost the lord of the castle his life and the largest castle in Overijssel was razed to the ground. It was never rebuilt. Since then, only a gently sloping hill is a reminder of the impressive history of the location. The vacant place left behind was incorporated by the city of Zwolle and is now a local park in the Westenholte neighbourhood.

Today the name of the location – Stinspark, from the Dutch word stins for a stronghold – is the only reminder of the fantastic story about robber barons and swords. The Westenholte, Voorst and Frankhuis Neighbourhood Association felt that this spot deserved more than just an information sign. It therefore asked us to collaborate with the artist Paul de Kort to make use of the opportunities offered by this special location.

Our design is made up of concentric rings wrapped around the site of the original castle. The first ring is a circular outer ditch widened in part. The second ring is a strip of vegetation in the form of a botanical garden, which hides the castle from sight apart from a few ponts that afford strategic views. The broad ditch used to lie within this, which we now partly dig up to form a ha-ha to keep the grassland animals out of the botanical garden: the third ring. Further inside there will be a raised island with a reference to the former castle on top.

The black composite poles form an expressive tower that invites everyone to climb it. We accentuate the original, complex pattern of narrow concentric ditchs from the Middle Ages with different kinds of plants that traditionally grew on such estates (stinzenplanten); they make their spectacular appearance in the early spring and reveal the ditch pattern. The design has been put together in close consultation with members of the neighbourhood association, the local authority and the Netherlands Central Heritage Agency (RCE). It provides space for play, sport, theatre, entertainment, relaxation and social interaction for young and old. In its new guise, the Stinspark is an asset not only for the Westenholte neighbourhood, but for the whole city.

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