Zaanse Schans is an area containing a reconstruction of Dutch houses from pre-industrial times. It originated in the early fifties and, unlike a real open air museum, people live and work here. This area, by now fifty years old and almost of monument-worthy status itself, has been subject to changes and additions since the sixties. Not surprising, as Zaanse Schans is an active part of the city which by definition can never be static.
In 2009, Foundation (Stichting) Zaanse Schans published the Vision Zaanse Schans 2015. The objectives can be summarised as increasing the attractiveness for tourists and their length of stay, reinforcing Zaanse Schans as a junction for regional tourism, and sustainable preservation of the cultural heritage. To that end, the municipality of Zaanstad commissioned our bureau to draw up architectural guidelines as well as an urban vision. After completion of these assignments, Foundation Zaanse Schans commissioned SteenhuisMeurs, together with DaF Architects and Joost Emmerik MSc, to design two of the most important public spaces of Zaanse Schans: both entrance areas.
At Kalverringdijk, one of the two entrance areas, the landing of the river cruise dock and the entrance for (mainly) pedestrians coming from the Juliana bridge are at issue.
The entrance opposite the Zaans Museum lacks a sufficiently visible entrance to Zaanse Schans, as well as a historically sound design of public space (around Schipperplein) and clear pedestrian flows and options for visitors (slow route and fast route). For the realisation of the design, the architectural guidelines and the urban vision of Zaanse Schans were leading. For the entrances, the following points of departure applied: 1. Historically sound design, with the transition of modern times to the 19th century as an important design theme. 2. The way Zaanse Schans is experienced through the eyes of the visitor will have priority in the entrance areas, without neglecting the interests of the inhabitants and entrepreneurs of Zaanse Schans, and 3. The commitment and input in the design process of local heritage organisations is crucial to gain and retain support.
Because of these points of departure, the design process followed was not commonplace. The design is based on the knowledge and research of the history of the Zaanstreek area, and a study took place into the historical development of public spaces in Zaanstreek (paths, squares, mill yards, gardens and so-called overgardens, separated by road or water from the houses they are part of).