Hortus Botanicus Leiden



  • Rijksuniversiteit Leiden
  • Hortus Botanicus Leiden


  • 1.0 ha

Year of design

  • 1997 - 1997

Year of fulfilment

  • 1997 - 2004

Implementation costs

  • € 500.000

Activities MTD

  • design, implementation preparation and site supervision

In collaboration with
Hurbert-Jan Henket & Partners (wintergarden)


  • buildings
  • build elements
  • gardens
a living plants museum

As the oldest scientific garden and university research institute in the Netherlands, Hortus Botanicus in Leiden is a unique phenomenon. Due to the discontinuation of a number of subsidies and being part of Leiden University, Hortus Botanicus has been forced to work in a more commercial manner while retaining its scientific objectives. It wants to enhance its importance as being a living plants museum. It wants to achieve this by way of the perpetuation, development and exploitation of the scientific collection of plants, the enhancement of the museum-oriented character of the garden, and the expansion of its public function. In 1997 MTD Landschapsarchitecten was commissioned to draw up a strategic concept and development plan, with the important objective being the realisation of a paying / free zoning; the improvement of the spatial quality and the embedding of the botanical garden into the urban fabric of Leiden's city centre.

the design
The proposed interventions encompass three scale levels. The first strategic modification was to add the Front Garden to the city's public space system. In this way Hortus Botanicus would form part of the urban fabric of Leiden, and the garden would become more vibrant as a green oasis in the city. In a natural way, the 5th Binnenvestgracht marks the transition from the free public section - the Front Garden - to the paying private section of Hortus Botanicus. Hortus Botanicus' appeal value has increased because of the development of a number of gardens with the Front Garden and the Gala Garden as the first phase. The new design of the Front Garden was inspired by the orthogonal system of the Hortus Publicis, just like it was here at the end of the 16th century. Plant sections have been placed in a grid with semi-paved pathways in between. Trees have been planted in an apparently random fashion in the plant sections, which subtly define the scale of the adjacent building for literature studies. Situated between the plant sections is a long 2-sided wooden bench which measures approximately 16 metres. From here one has a beautiful view onto the botanical garden. The water feature of the 5th Binnenvestgracht, designed like a semicircular pond, has once again been given architectural importance. A new structure has been introduced in the Front Garden; the Winter Garden. The circa 12 metres tall, transparent greenhouse, which was designed by Hubert-Jan Henket & Partners Architects, provides accommodation for the large potted plants and the Hortus café. The Gala Garden is accessible via the Hortus café. This garden has been given a museum-oriented design: a row of pillars, on top of which, in the course of time, oversized busts of special visitors can be placed. The Orangery square opposite the 5th Binnenvestgracht, is arranged in conjunction with the Front Garden. Two elongated plant beds designate a space which, during the summer months, houses the potted plants from the Orangery and are placed in an orthogonal pattern. This new design gives Hortus Botanicus an appearance which does justice to the rich history of this place.