Restoring the historic canal structure of Wageningen

The Science Shop explored the possibilities of restoration of the historic canal structure in Wageningen. And the opportunities the development of the image of a historic fortified town can bring.


Wageningen is a historic fortified town next to the river Rhine that has lost a considerable part of its historic structures, due to war damage and modernisation. A small part of the canal system just outside the walled town has been reclaimed for the purpose of a road that was supposed to connect a new residential area in the flood plains of the river. This new residential area was never realised, and new buildings were built along this road on top of the former canal. Recently a big building that has been established on top of the canal has been bought by a project developer. According to a group of residents (Platform Historic Canal Wageningen) the plans for tearing this building down and renew it, provides an excellent opportunity to dig out the historic canal again. They put it on the planning agenda of the city administration and the project developer designed a new building next to the restored canal. But there is no certainty about the costs and benefits, and about who would be willing to pay for the restoration. The Platform successfully applied for a supportive project at the Science Shop of Wageningen University.

The project aims at a further exploration on the different ways this restoration could become feasible. It also intends to forecast on the quality improvements for the city and its historic character if such a restoration is accomplished. The arguments for restoration were found in the restorative activities of comparable cities and the revenues that came along. Comparisons have been made with the walled towns of Den Bosch and Groenlo. Students also made inquiries among citizens of Wageningen about how they perceive and value the historic character of their city. The conclusion of this report is that investments in historic restoration give good revenues for the entrepreneurial community. Moreover several ways to involve the citizens of Wageningen in this restoration endeavour have been described in detail, for example by means of crowd-funding or crowdsourcing. At the end of the project a new organisation (Foundation for the Restoration of the Historic Cityscape of Wageningen) was erected by the entrepreneurial community, providing new opportunities to restore the historic canal system. An effective cooperation has been established between the Platform, this new organisation and the science shop project. This cooperation extends the limits of this project and still runs.

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