Engineers Landscape + Heritage

Genie Park, Defence Line Of Amsterdam

The historic Defence Line of Amsterdam (late 19th/early 20th century) is an oasis of calmness in the rapid developing Amsterdam metropolitan region and is of special ecological and cultural-historical value. Recreational activities in the park are becoming more and more popular. With the creation of the new Genie Park, an important link is added to this ‘Silent Line of Defence’.



Every landscape tells a story. In the case of defence works these are often tragic stories of a loss of soldiers or stories of heroism. The story of the Defence Line of Amsterdam is a different one, however: it is a story about boredom, and waiting for years for a battle which never came. A story about military engineering art which continued to develop into perfection; ridiculed by innovation upon completion: the invention of the airplane.


The Genie dike is used as a major and linking element in the creation of the Genie Park, a park area of about 125 hectares on both sides of the Genie dike, from the railway tracks up to the ring canal. The low dynamic functions in the park, such as cultural history, nature and recreation give ‘colour’ to the park and provide counterweight to the great territorial dynamics around Schiphol airport where several industrial estates are developed.

The genie dike is used as a kick starter for area development and will be tranformed into a 125 hectares park

The historical element of the Genie dike currently forms a green-blue ribbon in an open agricultural landscape. However, this situation will rapidly change due to large-scale developments in the north and south, such as, among others, Schiphol Logistics Park, ACT and PrimavierA. This large-scale territorial dynamics calls for a suitable (green) counterpoint.
The Genie dike zone, as important element in the green-blue recreative and nature network of the Haarlemmermeer, should fulfill this role. The Genie dike zone will be the recreational extension of Hoofddorp and the ‘image’ and central green area for surrounding industrial estates.



Clear principles need to be determined before we can start designing. The design process was started using the Programme of Requirements, which was drawn up by the client. Firstly, an extensive analysis of the area was executed and several discussions took place with representatives of various public parties (municipality, province, water board), and the business community (developing parties and businesses in the area), residents and interest groups.


On the basis of the above, a set of design principles was established for the Genie Park. These design principles were discussed with the client and with residents during a residents evening. In addition, considering the historic value of the Genie dike, the Monuments Committee and the Urban Regeneration Commission in Amsterdam were consulted. Consequently, a preliminary design was developed based on these design principles.

Final design Genie Dike


The final design is the result of a conceptual design which was first elaborated into a preliminary design. The final design forms the basis for the construction phase. The municipality developed a final and technical design and made some changes in these phases. The design principles remained largely unchanged when the conceptual design was elaborated into a final design. The design principles will be described briefly in the following paragraphs and consequently the plan will be explained in a nutshell.


The recognizability of the Genie dike as a defence line dike, and therefore as linear element with a characteristic bend, is the main priority in the design. The rows of elm trees emphasize the ‘covered’ side of the dike, with the trees being like guards lined up, and also accentuate the continuous line of the Genie dike. Linearity will also be emphasized in the reinforcement of the dike, as a prominent earthwork.


Both sides of the dike are emphasized in the plan. Various landscape elements are applied to the secured ‘covered’ side and the open side from which attacks took place, with the monumental Genie dike and the fore- and hinterland being a sharp boundary. The linear profile is accentuated through the different designs and visitors will experience different landscapes on both sides of the dike.


Special attention is given to the accesses or crossing structures. The logic of defences on particular, strategic points where security weaknesses are present in the military system (the accesses) calls for this. Every access in the plan will have a special design. This has already been realised at the A4, where a strikingly designed bicycle bridge was constructed. Special attention is given to the area around the station.


The Genie dike, with the old road for transporting troops now being a bicycle path, forms the centre line of the cyclist and hiker route system. But there are more routes. Considering the context and size of the park (almost 5 kilometers long), a varied path system for various user and target groups is realised near the dike and on both sides of the park areas. The paths are both formal and informal in character.


Because of the particular location of the park near Hoofddorp and Schiphol and along motorways, railways and waterways, the park has been designed from various perspectives.
The perspective of the driver (A4) and the air passenger (Schiphol), the perspective of hikers and cyclists on the dike and the perspective of hikers and cyclists in the park call for an individual perception of the design and coordination of these different perceptions.


These 5 design principles are integrated into the final design of the Genie Park. The spatial concept forms the basis for this integration. The concept consists of four sub areas. The four sub areas can easily be recognised from conceptual to final design and consist of the meadow of trees, the Genie dike, the field of fire and the dancing park edge.