In the post-war period, a small group of landscape designers created hundreds of landscape plans. The exhibition 'Dutch Landscape Designed: 1946-1954' shows how these plans shaped various, specific Dutch landscapes. The exhibition at the Special Collections of WUR Library runs through 3 March 2023.
Designing the Dutch landscape
You come across trees and shrubs everywhere you go in the Netherlands, but few people realise that all this greenery forms part of a grand plan. The familiar patterns of the Dutch landscape were almost entirely planned and planted in the post-World War II reconstruction period. Now that the world is focused on nitrogen
reduction, climate change and the transition of rural areas, the discussion
about a new design of the landscape is highly topical.
From 1946 to 1976, a small group of landscape designers employed by the Dutch Forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer) created more than 450 landscape plans for the Dutch countryside. Together, these plans, known as the Staatsbosbeheer Collection, cover almost 70% of the Netherlands and have been kept at the Special Collections for more than 25 years. The series of landscape plans in the Staatsbosbeheer collection can be considered one 'Landscape plan for the Netherlands'.
When the trees and shrubs of those landscape plans were originally planted, they were of course still small and barely noticeable. Today, they define the appearance, and experience, of much of the Dutch landscape.
Dutch Landscape Plan
Guest curator Henk van Blerck recently completed his PhD with a thesis on the ‘Dutch Landscape Plan’. His work is primarily based on the Staatsbosbeheer collection. In his dissertation he concludes that the beauty of the varied Dutch cultural landscape was the main motivation for its designers and that they designed the landscape with a visionary approach on a national scale.
Exhibition Dutch Landscape Designed: 1946-1954
‘Dutch Landscape Designed: 1946-1954’ reveals how the disciplines of the then Agricultural College (soil science, geology, geography, forestry, land and water management, landscape gardening and botany) joined forces to form the idea of a ‘Dutch Landscape Plan’. During the Second World War, this pooling of knowledge led to the first ever typology of the Dutch agricultural and rural landscape.
The exhibition includes the original landscape plans for seven distinct landscape types. The hand-drawn designs reveal how the designers tried to preserve the distinctive features of the various landscape types in the new landscape. They even added new features, and so created completely new landscapes that had a special appeal of their own.
Seventy years later, these landscape types are still recognisable in our landscape. A good example is the Binnenveld nature area nearby Wageningen campus. (Tip: visit this nature area and see if you can recognise the different landscape types in it.)
Location & opening hours
The exhibition opens on 3 November and runs through 3 March 2023. Special Collections is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm and is closed on national holidays. If you would like to visit the collection in the afternoon or with a group, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: Special Collections Reading Room, WUR Library, Wageningen University & Research Forum, Building 102, Droevendaalsesteeg 2, 6706KN Wageningen. Please use the main entrance to the Library on the 2nd floor of the building.