A design assignment in a historical context involves research into the development history of a place and the search for the most stable structural and story lines within it, or the search for the 'genius loci' of a place. This then forms the basis for adding a new contemporary layer and healing the development history if you will. In other words, the spatial environment is studied for its most essential characteristics, in order to arrive at the intelligent 'move' that can strengthen these characteristics and add new qualities for the future.
The central ambition within a historical context is on the one hand to strengthen the existing cultural-historical qualities and structures and to make them more perceptible and then to connect them with a new contemporary program and meaning. The aim is to achieve a balanced balance between conservation and renewal.
The search for the specific character or the 'genius loci' of a place
Design in the sense of 'a break with history' does not fit into such an approach. The aim is to heal the historical stratification and the continuity of the development history of a place. Design in a historical context does not exclude contemporary design and the application of contemporary techniques and materials. New landscape architectural and architectural structures and elements to be introduced should initially look for references in the identity of a place. Not historicising, but timeless and indebted to the past.
For example, the city canal in the city rampart zone of 's-Hertogenbosch has been reduced, but with a 3-storey parking garage underneath, which can accommodate about 1100 cars and offers a representative entrance to the historic city center. At another level of detail, the fences to which the cows were once tied at the Cow Market in Purmerend have been preserved and restored, and the names of the cow traders have been replaced by the names of the cafes present and the fences now delimit the terraces.
Projects in which 'designing in a historical context' is central do justice to the historical development and the cultural-historical qualities and structures of a place and new uses and new meanings are added on the basis of this. This creates site-specific, timeless and also sustainable projects; it delivers designs that are ‘time-resistant’.