From the formal towards the picturesque

Fig. 1
Illustrations of the seven land-marks and the way they are approached related to the different landscape conditions.

From the formal towards the picturesque

From time immemorial, the farmer has reigned over the lands of Oldambt. Devoted to agriculture, villages developed like fine linear carvings in the vast productive landscape. For millennia the Oldambtster farm defined the territory in large numbers.

Due to agricultural reform and upscaling the original characteristics of the landscape started to disappear, resulting in fallowed lands and natural in-between spaces. Many were either driven into bankruptcy or exchanged their traditional farms for generic industrial sheds in isolation. Oldambtster farms and villages got deprived of their raison d’être. In an attempt to revitalise the region, part of the polders was re-flooded. With a focus on leisure, Oldambtmeer and Blauwestad can be seen as the first step towards the summoning of today’s leisure class. Yet, as a rather invasive and exclusive gesture it failed to meet expectations and to involve its surroundings.

This project aims to complete the gesture initiated with the Blauwe-stad and Oldambtmeer while commemorating Oldambt’s history and heritage, and enabling the area to attain true picturesque status. A series of interventions is introduced to the tamed yet seemingly wild and impermeable natural conditions surrounding the lake.

Fig. 2
The Oldambt territory with the proposed landmarks showing the various landscape conditions through the different seasons.

The area is a collection of different ‘seasons’ it has been subject to. From polders to marshes, moors, forests and flooded lands, a cycle of different landscape characteristics manifests itself. Studiously integrated with the character of these conditions, the interventions frame in specific ways views of it, offering the modern Grand Tourist intensive points for aesthetic enjoyment and moments of contemplation. Roads, paths and trails already enable landscape experiences on different levels. By introducing these monuments in the landscapes now largely experienced in transit, the public realm is offered pauses, provoking links between past and present.

As monuments to the Oldambtster farm, the landmarks reflect its morphological and structural qualities—enabling its ‘seasonal’ change and suspension in occupation. The definition of two elements—a base and superstructure—embody the merger of house and barn in the farm type. Acting as a frame, they can be appropriated by seasonal events. As strategic interventions, they are highly contextual while equally holding a de-contextualized status, acknowledging the evolution of the aristocratic endeavours of the past into the modern-day middle-class jaunt.

Amid a productive landscape, a twenty-first century form of a picturesque garden is presented —an amusement park the size of a modern city— memorialising the lost virtues of country life, reflec-ting the topical values of travel, pleasure and luxury, and amplifying Oldambt’s new leisure oriented, yet history-laden identity.

Fig 3.
Each landmark frames in its own way the landscape it is in.