Edges and hedges

GWL_Team 2_1210  GWL_Team 2_1169


Waterwijk, or GWL site (gemeentelijke Waterleidingen), provided Amsterdam of clean drinking water until the nineties of last century. The site was then redeveloped as an eco- or environmental friendly neighborhood (‘eco- or milieuwijk’). In between the brick housing blocks there’s lots of green: private, collective and public gardens, which are separated by hedges. When compared to the adjacent neighborhoods, the quantity of green is striking.

On the quality side it might look a little poor, especially for an ‘ecowijk’, which is supposed to set the example. The hedges come across as uniform and easy to maintain, rather then as a good example of ecological and bio-diverse urban green. But in this case appearances are deceptive. These hedges, which are defining species and are physical borders to men (at 1.40 m tall, one can look over them), were actually designed to serve as an ecological road network for fauna. Furthermore the hedges provide shelter and nesting space to the animals.

The inhabitants, and the property-owners are united in an association, which is responsible for guarding the ecological ambitions of the area. They also make sure this ecological network stays open for eco-traffic. Most of the small inhabitants of this neighborhood have no urge to explore greater Amsterdam. Those who still believe that the grass is greener outside GWL have to deal with another type of border; the type of border which connects men, and is like a roadblock for the animals. Do these two types of connections have to always oppose each other? Can’t we think of clever ways to combine the two?