Restorative ruins

How can the brownfield-urban forest bring forward restorative qualities for human nature?

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Brownfields can bring forward unique spatial qualities in the urban environment: spatial exceptionality, re-usable infrastructures & imperfection that could bring forward the experience of being in a whole other world, while being in the middle of a city. However, these sites are often deconstructed, because they lack a direct financial or infrastructural benefit and are seen as ‘rubbish’.

A trend which is reflected in the Binckhorst, The Hague, where an ensemble of two brownfields is planned to be demolished. Why? The Binckhorst is transforming from an industrial area into a dense mixed-use residential area, housing 5000+ dwellers and 5000+ workers. However, with more and more people living in the same environment the demand for restorative environments increases: spaces that help recharge our cognitive batteries. Simultaneously, with the industrial program moving, there is an opportunity to restore the ecological quality of this area.

Urban forestry has proven to be able to bring forward restorative qualities for human nature. On the one hand, by providing soft fascinations for people. On the other hand, by being a vital component to increase biodiversity in cities.

This thesis researches the potential of the brownfield-urban forest. More specifically, how the integration of these modern ruins and the natural backbone of the city could bring forward restorative environments for human nature.

The result, the spatial design of the Patchwork Oasis in the Binckhorst and a concluding design guide, supported by precedent analysis. Both, showcasing why we need more green ruinscapes in our lifes and how the needs of human nature are much more similar than we often think.