Learning and playing in Green-blue Park in Beneden-Leeuwen
When an old school building in Beneden-Leeuwen was demolished, the municipality decided to create a green-blue park on the premises. This park attracts a wide range of residents, young and old alike. Its open nature enables the children of the new school that has been built next to the park to enjoy the facilities every day. The park can store large volumes of rainwater and provides a cooling effect on hot days.
What has prompted the construction of the park?
The municipality of West Maas en Waal intends to address the climate effects in its villages, which include the village of Beneden-Leeuwen. In 2018, a new school building was erected in this village, the Comprehensive Children’s Centre. This Centre now accommodates several schools and day-care facilities. When the adjacent old school building was due for demolition, the authorities came up with a plan for a green-blue park, intended for local residents and for the new school.
How has the park been designed?
The authorities elaborated the plan together with local stakeholders in the vicinity of the old school building: the Comprehensive Children’s Centre, the fire brigade, and catering establishments. Local residents were also involved; they were invited to contribute ideas and wishes via residents’ information evenings. Thus, a plan was developed to create an open park where residents and school children can relax and play. The school can use the park during school hours: it features a small exercise field and an outdoor classroom. Outside school hours, local residents can use these spots.
Park Beneden Leeuwen
How does the park help to combat climate effects?
The municipal stress test has shown the village of Beneden-Leeuwen to be highly vulnerable to extreme heat, drought, and waterlogging. The old schoolyard and school building comprised a great deal of pavement: 5,000 m2. Demolition of the building enabled this pavement to be replaced by a green, well-shaded park. In addition, the municipality created a wide trench to store and gradually drain rainwater. Water only flows to the trench during rainfall. At other times, the trench runs dry and children can play there. Rainwater that falls on the rooftop of the new school building runs across the schoolyard, via cobblestoned grooves, to the trench. The visible water is a fun and natural play element for the children.
School staff member: ‘The ultimate result has turned out more than satisfactory. The schoolyard is open and only separated by a “border” of tree trunks. Teachers regularly take their classes to the park for their lessons. And the woodchips, tree benches, play hills, water grooves, and willow huts give the area a natural feel.’
Video: this video shows the park right after its creation.
Municipal lessons to be learned
The municipal authorities have approached all the parties in an equal manner and involved them in the project. Wherever possible, the wishes that were put forward have been accommodated in the design. In some cases, this meant that parties had to forego some of their wishes. For example, the catering establishments did not want parking facilities for teachers in front of their outdoor seating areas. This was resolved by allowing teachers and parents to use the catering establishments’ car park. Because everyone was equal in the process and parties collectively looked for solutions, almost all the wishes could be substantiated. Even now the park has been completed, the parties are still taking decisions by mutual agreement. As a result, the project can be regarded as more than successful.
Gemeente West Maas en Waal