Public Space Design

H+N+S is an office for spatial research and design in which green outdoor space is central. Many are vision plans that have no effect until later and then only indirectly. Nevertheless, since the establishment of the office, and certainly in the last 20 years, more and more specific projects have been realised in the green outdoor space.

Often these are projects that are strongly colored by a certain aspect, such as water and flood protection or cultural heritage. Sometimes they are also 'normal' projects, without a special theme. However, we are rarely asked for standard outdoor space projects. There is often a reason for us to be involved, because the client's ambitions are high and often also because a complex issue requires special expertise.

For example, within H+N+S, an independent oeuvre has been built up over the past 2 decades around public space design. Of sturdy parks, squares and city streets as well as a series of special outdoor spaces in special buildings, residential and commercial landscapes and scenic parking spaces.

Landart park Buitenschot, Haarlemmermeer (© Siebe Swart)


Since its foundation, we have designed various parks, both new parks and redesigns in which an existing park was given a thorough refurbishment. This was the case, for example, at the Groot Sloterpark (Amsterdam) and the Belgian Citadelpark (Ghent), the Flemish counterpart of the Vondelpark. In Breda we designed an ecological park with the Zaartpark at the meeting of two streams.

The Noorderbos in Tilburg is a park area on the former flow fields of a water treatment plant. We designed the Amaliapark on an archaeological site for the new-build district of Leidsche Rijn. With Park Buitenschot, we realized a park for Hoofddorp that functions as a recreational run-off area and at the same time functions as a noise-reducing measure for nearby Schiphol. A little further on, we realized the Genie Park, as part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam as 'Stiltestelling'.


Squares are the places in the city where the city dweller can relax in a pleasant way in a leafy environment. The task is often to let the car play a less dominant role, or even to make the square car-free, as in the case of the Market in Boxtel, as the most important square space. We made a redesign for the Dumonplein in Brussels together with Artgineering. Here too, the challenge was to give the parked car a less prominent place.

The Marchantplein is of a completely different caliber, which is located in the middle of De Hoge Veluwe National Park. The central square, which was originally completely paved, has recently been transformed into a much softer space, with greenery and semi-paved surfaces, which does more justice to its location in the middle of this natural park. The more informal layout refers to the 'coincidence' of paths meeting in an open space in the forest.

We designed the renovated Artisplein for ARTIS zoo, originally designed by Michael van Gessel. We have left the plan intact as much as possible. The adjustments mainly relate to the realization of a new entrance, which gives access to the Groote Museum, which will reopen to visitors after 75 years. We also made adjustments to the trees because many of the trees grew poorly, and we added a new fourth entrance to the square.

City streets

A street is not a street – every street is different. In conjunction with the new Park Belle Vue, we designed a bicycle street on the edge of the park for the municipality of Leuven. This Martelaerenlaan also provides access to the existing homes. The car is a guest. Together with Artgineering and ARA, we received the Flemish Infrastructure Prize in 2021 and the Flemish Public Space Award in 2023 for this design.

We designed the monumental Rijnkennemerlaan for the VINEX district of Leidsche Rijn: a space of 4 kilometers long with 1 profile. The avenue is a space of tranquility in the midst of the hectic pace of this new residential area. Here too, the car is subordinate to slow traffic. This also applies in the historical village context of Boxtel in Brabant and Hansbeke in Flanders, where we redesigned the cultural-historical axis and Dorpsstraat respectively, in both cases the historical center lines of these old centres. The designs give ample scope to the 'slow flows' and respect the historical qualities.

Public Space Award 2023


Sometimes a very special request comes along to design a unique outdoor space, for example at a museum, a catering facility or a historic villa. A one of a kind that requires special attention. This category includes various museum gardens that we were allowed to design. In the past we designed the garden of the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, in collaboration with Piet Oudolf. The garden is still beautiful. More recently, we created the outdoor space of the National Military Museum in Soesterberg, including Stiltetuin and Herdenkingsplein. And we are currently working on a garden for Museum Naturalis, as an extension of the museum. Unfortunately, our spectacular design for the Museum of Archeology in Rostock, which we made together with Zaha Hadid architects, with a forest on the top floor, was not selected and will never be built.

We designed various gardens for the De Hoge Veluwe National Park, including the landscaping at the St. Hubertus hunting lodge, the gardens at the service building, and the garden at the Zwarte Berg guest house. In all cases, the task is to create a design that meets the requirements of today, but with respect for the historical qualities. The same attitude can be found in the designs we made for the Windesheim country estate near Zwolle and in two private gardens on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a Springer garden at a villa by architect Hanrath and a garden initially designed by P.A.M. Buijs belonging to a beautiful Rietveld villa.

We are also working more and more in the urban context. In the past, the Zebra Garden was realized in the heart of Amsterdam. More recently, work is being done on the courtyard garden of Leiden City Hall, in the heart of the city center of Leiden. This garden was completed in 2022. The newRIVM building will soon be completed, which will be built in the Utrecht Science Park. This gigantic building is actually a small vertical city. We designed the green interior spaces, the roof and facade greenery and the outdoor space with a representative entrance square.

Residential landschapes

H+N+S is not an agency that spends a great deal of time designing housing plans or industrial estates. Nevertheless, we do make plans for residential landscapes, especially if the client has an above-average ambition and wants to make quality and there is therefore something for us to discover. During the VINEX period, we contributed ideas and designed parts of IJburg (particularly the bank design), Ypenburg (including a noise barrier), Leidsche Rijn (basic water structure design with wadis) and Floriande in Hoofddorp (Island 8).

Together with Palmbout urban landscapes we made the plan for Zevenaar-Oost, a relaxed residential area on the east side of Zevenaar. We also designed Waterwijk Nesselande in collaboration with Palmbout, an affluent residential area on the outskirts of Rotterdam. Just as special and just as controversial is the design for the contemporary 'castle district' Haverleij near Den Bosch, where new residential clusters are located in the green space. In Overdie, Alkmaar, too, 'red and green' are brought together in a new way, but on a smaller scale and here people do not live around a golf course, but the houses derive their identity from their location on an allotment park.

Working landscapes

What applies to housing also applies to industrial estates: H+N+S is not an agency that spends a great deal of time designing industrial estates. Nevertheless, we do make plans for working landscapes if the client goes for quality and there is enough for us to discover. For example, we made the plan for Arnhems Buiten on the transition between the city and the Veluwe. We have also been working for many years on the supervision and development of Greenpark Aalsmeer, for which we received the Arie Keppler Prize in 2007. We contributed to and designed the master plan for Greenpark Aalsmeer and in recent years we have been working out the various components of the outdoor space of this site, including the design of the bridges.

Arnhems Buiten

We created other special working landscapes for the Port of Rotterdam Authority, where we worked on the landscape plan for Maasvlakte 2, the design of the truck parking MV Plaza, the design for the public transport hub in the port and most recently the outdoor space design for Theemsweg. Each and every one of them results in tough, honest landscapes that fit in with the port of Rotterdam but also offer space for people and for plants and animals. In this way we add new layers of meaning to the functional port landscape.

Special attention to the green quality of the working landscape, however mundane and utilitarian, is also reflected in our plan for the WWTP in Hilversum (Anna's Hoeve). Here, together with the architectural firm Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen, a simple yet powerful plan has been drawn up, by making a clear distinction between the functional 'machine' and the natural landscape that 'washes' in between, as it were, in connection with the nearby Goois nature reserve.

Landscape parking places

Just as it is the challenge for something so ordinary, everyday as a work landscape to design something special, with meaning for people and preferably also nature, we also try this when designing parking lots. With the right choices and a little design attention, even something as trivial as a parking lot can acquire a landscape quality. In the meantime, we have designed parking lots with a great landscape quality in various places, so that they fit in with the environment and also retain their attractiveness when empty, including in the dunes near the Meijendel nature and recreation area and at the Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem, on the outskirts of the Veluwe. We also designed forest car parks for the National Military Museum in Soesterberg and in the completely renovated central area of NP De Hoge Veluwe.