The Netherland-based architecture firm Mecanoo works with Eden Project in the UK, to make the Soestdijk Estate, in Soest, Netherlands, into “an experimental garden for a sustainable society”. The former Royal Family Palace, which has been open to the public since 2006, is finally getting a new purpose. The new Eden Soestdijk will be a part of an educative and social experience that raises awareness of the Earth’s problems. The Soestdijk Estate seems to be perfectly suitable for the project because of its well-tended natural context. The project is expected to be an economic asset to the country because of the numbers of visitors and students it shall receive. Below are the details for the project by Mecanoo:

 

Eden Soestdijk: experimental garden for a sustainable society

The Soestdijk Estate will be transformed into Eden Soestdijk; an experimental garden for a sustainable society and a paradise destination for all. That is the plan developed by the Eden Soestdijk foundation, Mecanoo architecten, Kossmann.dejong and Royal HaskoningDHV in response to the redevelopment competition for the Palace organized by the Dutch government.

The redevelopment of the Soestijk estate has a social purpose in creating a more sustainable society. An educative journey will touch all the visitors’ senses, triggering them to become more aware and conscious of the earth’s fragility. Eden Soestdijk aims to make a significant contribution to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It has international appeal and will be an economic, educative and cultural asset to the Netherlands.

Anton Valk, chairman of the Eden Soestdijk foundation: “The world is facing pressure from increasingly larger and more complex problems when it comes to water, food, climate and energy. Eden Soestdijk wants to tackle these problems and contribute to a more sustainable society by stimulating and inspiring visitors to change their behavior in a positive way.” Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo architecten, one of the partners of Eden Soestdijk: “The Palace Soestdijk Estate is one of the most fairytale like surroundings of the Netherlands: the ideal canvas for Eden Soestdijk. The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner.”

Marije Hulshof, member of the board of Royal HaskoningDHV and partner of Eden Soestdijk: “The best plans arise through the combination of diverse perspectives. That’s why we want to create Eden Soestdijk in dialogue with residents, local entrepreneurs and organisations of Baarn and Soest. This will deliver immense socio-economic benefit for the region.”

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Socio-economic benefit

More than half a million yearly visitors are expected to come to Eden Soestdijk from 2020 onward, amongst which fifty thousand students. As a result of this, nearly fifty-seven million euro’s annually will be fed back to the economy, especially regionally.

In addition the park offers a wealth of opportunities for intern and apprenticeships as well as positions for those with difficulty accessing the job market. Because Eden Soestdijk is being developed and exploited in a non-profit manner, all continued proceeds will be reinvested in the further development of the estate.

Eden Soestdijk builds on the connection of many Dutch citizens to the estate and the palace. Development of the plans will take place in dialogue with residents, entrepreneurs, and organisations from Baarn, Soest and the wider region.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Iconic Greenhouse

An architectural greenhouse winding through the forest behind the palace gardens will be the main icon of Eden Soestdijk. Within this striking greenhouse visitors will be taken on an interactive expedition through spectacular landscapes highlighting topics of circularity, ecological balance and the social aspects of sustainability.

In the tropical rainforest you will experience the importance of biodiversity. Efficient and sustainable food production is the central message of the high-tech agricultural area. In a subterranean world you will see how fungi and bacteria work.

The results of climate change become visible in an icy artic landscape and the unique Martian landscape stresses the fragility of the earth from a cosmic perspective.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Palace

The chambers within the palace showcase the rich history of the estate and its residents. They will be restored while maintaining the original character and, when possible, used for cultural and business events.

The palace also serves as an incubator space for sustainability where entrepreneurs, experts, and students can exchange knowledge and develop ideas.

The wing chambers will be designed as interactive exhibition spaces that showcase the beauty of nature from a cultural, historical and scientific perspective. Multimedia presentations stimulate the visitors’ fantasy, motivating them to interact with the world in a more sustainable manner.

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Gardens

The landscape is an integral part of Eden Soestdijk. The palace gardens will be restored in full glory. Exciting, educative and fairytale-like gardens and landscapes strengthen the experience of nature. They will each connect with the central theme of sustainability while showcasing a unique individual atmosphere. The front square connects the palace and the restaurant in the conservatory and will be publicly accessible through a pedestrian and cycling tunnel beneath the Amsterdamse Straatweg.

“The Palace Soestdijk Estate is one of the most fairytale-like surroundings of the Netherlands: the ideal canvas for Eden Soestdijk. The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner.” – Francine Houben, Creative Director Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo

Initiators

Eden Soestdijk was initiated by the Eden Soestdijk foundation, partnering with Mecanoo architecten, Eden Project, Kossmann.dejong exhibition architects, Royal HaskoningDHV and Bureau voor Bouwhistorisch Onderzoek en Restauratie F. Franken. The project was inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall (Great-Britain) where more than a million visitors annually learn about the importance of a sustainable lifestyle in a fun and engaging manner.

The development of Eden Soestdijk involved a number of civil society partners, amongst which universities, colleges and various vocational colleges from the surrounding area, but also the MELiSSA-project run by the European Space Agency (ESA) – represented by IPstar – and the Dutch association of Botanical Gardens.

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