Saturday, March 24, 2012


Elements of the Dutch landscape - 2
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!
Gates to nowhere - Dutch fences are unnatural. Fences should run for a certain length, they should not be short like this. They should separate spaces and should hide what's behind them. Dutch fences don't work like this. They do not "fence off" anything. They are not meant for humans, they are designed for cattle.

When there's no cattle the fence can be left open. And the landscape is full of ditches anyway, so most of the fencing  is done by water. Each strip of land is like a medieval castle with a moat and the entrance is the only spot that has to be "fortified" with a gate.
In rare cases the fence is meant for humans. This fence in Hekendorp gives access to a 1 km long plot of land and the house is on the other side. But by law the mailbox has to be close to the main road. The inhabitant has to make a daily long walk daily to collect his mail.
's Gravenweg - Nieuwerkerk
Exhibitionist spaces - The fences do not invite trespassers because nothing is hidden. There is identical flat space on both sides of the fence. Nothing is gained by climbing it.
Schoonhoven - Polsbroek
The Dutch landscape and its gates are the exact opposite of a "park landscape". According to William Boyd [1] a park has to meet the following criteria:
  • First, there must be tall, mature trees, the older and taller the better.
  • Second, the majority of the trees in the park must give the impression of random planting - no rectangles or neat lines, by and large. An avenue here or there is allowed, an allée, but we need the illusion of spontaneous, unplanned growth. 
  • Third, the ground must undulate in a significant way - flatness is not a park-criterion. 
  • Fourth, there is the question of scale: you mustn't be able to see all sides of the park at once - one boundary at least must be invisible from wherever you stand. 
  • Fifth, there must be a gated entrance: a park need not necessarily be fenced or walled but it must have a portal - or several. 

[1] 'It's all too beautiful'- William Boyd takes a literary tour of urban oases - William Boyd, The Guardian, Saturday 20 June 2009

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Gates to nowhere separating nothing!! Made me giggle. Can others participate too? If so, have you got any sheep grazing on on berms