Landscape and cultural history

Awareness of a project location as an entity is increasing all the time. Developments like the restoration of a brook, the construction of homes, or the building of a bridge, road or dike are no longer regarded as stand-alone projects, but are viewed in a wider context. Achievement of spatial quality has become a key consideration. The totality of interventions and processes occurring in an area needs to result in an enhanced spatial quality of a locality.

Spatial quality is usually defined according to social, economic, cultural and rural interests. Better and sustainable quality is attainable if these interests and associated qualities are embedded harmoniously in the plan. A question we regular ask during a planning process is: Can it be done better? So for us, an outline plan or a landscape plan is a way of achieving good spatial quality rather than a goal in its own right.

It has been established that people tend to define an area’s landscape and cultural history qualities according to subjective appreciation. Within any project, Witteveen+Bos clearly demarcates the terms of ‘cultural history’ and ‘landscape’. Cultural history is determined by the combination of three spatial sciences:

  • Historical construction and urban planning: study of architectural heritage
  • Historical geography: study of the cultural landscape
  • Archaeology: study of soil archives

These are sometimes referred to as the facets of cultural history. Cultural history is the story behind the layout of a town or landscape and behind historical buildings and archaeological discoveries. Landscape is a term used for the perceptible part of the Earth determined by mutual cohesion and reciprocal influencing of the factors of climate, relief, water, soil, and flora and fauna as well as human action. When making landscape analyses, Witteveen+Bos adheres to three facets:

  • types of landscape that are present, together with the landscape structure
  • spatio-visual features in the landscape
  • physio-geographical forms in the landscape: the geological layer consisting of both geological landscapes and geological objects

We assist clients in obtaining an insight into landscape and cultural history values in their planning areas and in creating and retaining the targeted spatial qualities. To do this, our consultants use a variety of methods and products such as interactive workshops (sometimes using MapTable) with the help of:

  • people who know the area well
  • decision-makers and stakeholders
  • the spatial quality matrix
  • ambition-defining documents
  • spatial quality indicators
  • cultural history inventories
  • landscape visions and plans