Integrating the built and natural streetscape in Nijmegen, Netherlands
01.10.2009 - 03.03.2010
In October when I arrived at my first rental place along Hatertseweg, City workers were tearing up the street a few blocks away. No big surprise really. The Dutch are always repairing, reconstructing, and most-the-time improving their public right-of-ways.
But this particular reconstruction job got my attention. The workers had constructed massive underground planter boxes between the street and the cycle path.
The wells were covered leaving an opening for a large tree...
(Photos by Jim Labbe)
... which when I went back today were planted next to a new bright red cycle path.
(Photo by Jeff Mandel)
The tree planters are clearly designed to allow trees to grow bigger and healthier with more expansive canopies with the benefits to traffic calming, improved air quality and urban heat island mitigation, wildlife habitat, and simple beauty.
Apparently this road repair required removing some large trees and the construction of these tree wells was part of mitigating loss of the trees and the values they provide for neighbors, street users, and future generations.
Most of what makes the Netherlands such an affluent nation is its enormous wealth in public infrastructure (instead of cloistered in private spaces as in America) exemplified here in a creative street scape that more fully integrates the built and natural environment. I sure wish my , local municipality (City of Portland) and local Transportation Department (PBOT) demonstrated a similar commitment to creating urban streetscapes that worked for people, the varied ways people get around, and the natural environment.
Here is a photo of the project in June 2015, 5 years after planting. The trees are bigger, healthy and going strong.
(Photo by Ruth Koster)
And again in July 2018
(Photo by Jim Labbe)