The New Garden gradually developed into a public space with an ecological system of herbs, shrubs, birds and animals. Artist and designer Frank Bruggeman and ecological landscaper Hans Engelbrecht laid out the garden in the spring of 2015 in the grounds of Het Nieuwe Instituut. Their design is a plea for an urban green space managed on an ecological basis with space for nature to take over.
The wasteland and verges are deliberately not regularly maintained, in the hope that more wild and varied growth will be achieved within the space of a few years. With the New Garden, Bruggeman and Engelbrecht have shown that greater biodiversity develops by itself when nature is allowed free rein. However, the temporary nature of the garden calls for a certain level of direction. With the help of urban debris and sewage pipes, Bruggeman and Engelbrecht have created not only the image of an urbanised landscape but also the conditions for a dynamic natural development, resulting in an ecologically valuable, partially wild assortment of plants, many of which are not normally found in the city.
The temporary garden by Bruggeman and Engelbrecht reflects the growing interest in urban nature, which is expressed not only in the current preoccupation with urban agriculture and local food production but also in the appeal from climate experts and urban designers to make our cities greener. At the same time, dwindling resources to construct and maintain urban green areas only threaten to make such areas even more monotonous. The New Garden shows that greening the city and increasing the wealth of plant species can also occur spontaneously. Varied and rugged vegetation can flourish within the space of a few years on vacant sites and along verges that are not maintained. At the same time, the design by Bruggeman and Engelbrecht exerts a certain measure of control, required because of the temporary character of the garden. Using urban debris and sewerage pipes, amongst other things, Bruggeman and Engelbrecht create not only the conditions for an urbanised landscape, but also the conditions for a dynamic process of area development. That results not only in an ecologically valuable but also a wild and unconventional appearance. In selecting plants for The New Garden, the designers have opted for a mixture of indigenous species, among them willow, elderberry, hawthorn, bramble and reed, and exotic urban species such as Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, goutweed and ailanthus, which represent various types of landscape.
Hans Engelbrecht takes existing vegetation, soil and environmental factors as his point of departure. Frank Bruggeman draws inspiration from vacant sites and how nature transforms them. A feature of urban nature is that it must also serve social and recreational needs. That is why Engelbrecht and Bruggeman reserve space for a large terrace in The New Garden. The result is an ode to the interaction between natural dynamism and human intervention.
Future of Museumpark
The creation and opening of The New Garden is a way for Het Nieuwe Instituut to call attention to the management of public space, and more specifically to the future of Museumpark. The design gives a first impression of what is possible at a much bigger scale. At the same time, it becomes a setting where all sorts of activities can take place and contact can be established with new user groups. In the early spring the public will discover various willows and flourishing pioneer species. As summer approaches, the colours and biodiversity will rapidly increase, only to change appearance later when it expresses the subdued repose of the winter season: The New Garden.