Two structural visions for Airport Twente

Historical openness structures nes urban and landscape design programmes

After the closure of the airport Twente in 2003, two plans have been drawn up for this area by Strootman Landschapsarchitecten in collaboration with Palmbout Urban Landscapes. They are based on the programmatic scenarios ‘Care and Cure’ and ‘A new regional civilian airport’.


Twente, Overijssel


Vliegwiel Twente Maatschappij (VTM)


Palmbout Urban Landscapes

Surface Area

400 ha

Design Year


The beautiful landscape of woods and country estates between the cities of Hengelo, Enschede and Oldenzaal in the eastern part of the Netherlands called Twente has been preserved from urbanisation thanks to the presence of a military airport. After the closure of this airport in 2003, two plans have been drawn up for this area based on the programmatic scenarios ‘Care and Cure’ and ‘A new regional civilian airport’. In 2009 the government bodies decided to develop a new regional airport because it contributes most to the objective: ‘The transformation of the present air base into a fly-wheel for an economically stronger and more sustainable Twente’. The basis of the military airport was laid on the former heathland at the beginning of the 20th century. From the end of the 19th century, the vast heathlands of Twente were reclaimed in a few decades to create woodland, country estates and agricultural land. The vastness of the former heathlands was thereby replaced by a landscape on a much smaller scale. The Twente air base, however, retained the enormous openness that was so characteristic of the former heathlands.

The vast open spaces, which are of great cultural historical value, are deployed to structure the as yet undefined urban and landscape programmes. The densification is situated around elongated voids of between 100 and 250 metres in width and up to 4 kilometres in length. The voids preserve and dramatise the existing openness and linearity. This strategy is inspired by the OMA plan for Mélun Senart from 1987. The voids are so positioned that they spatially anchor the former air base in its surroundings by means of a number of long visual axes. The voids are ‘filled’ with a variety of open green programmes: a glider airport, a heathland reserve, a new stream valley, a new air strip, and a large number of meadows for horses to graze surrounded by white picket fences. Twente Airport as a new Versailles.

The large scale of the project also affords the possibility of restoring the seriously damaged natural water system. The design envisages the restoration of the sponge effect of the ice-pushed ridge Lonnekerberg, which will lead to the emergence of new springs and upper courses. New streams will be created on the site of the air base to connect the springs and upper courses with the lower ones. In the civilian airport variant, the logistics of the airport form a part of the design. The terminal with the arrivals and departures hall stands invitingly next to the entrance void. A network of recreational tracks for cyclists and pedestrians is created. On the basis of an in-depth analysis of the current road structure, proposals have been made for the connection with the regional road network in combination with a new link to the A1 motorway.

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