Fresh air

In the mid 19th century the city centre became polluted and attention was increasingly paid to hygiene. A need for fresh air took over the people of Amsterdam, and for that reason Amsterdams first municipal park was created in 1845: the Westerplantsoen (garden).

 

Park on the former terrain of the Westergasfabriek (gasworks), 2006

Theatre

Due the Westerkanaal (canal) being moved, however, these public gardens were forced into disappearing. Thus a new park was created at this site in 1891: the Westerpark. It had a long access avenue, a childrens playground and a large pond. And in the summer the people of Amsterdam could head here for theatrical performances.

 

The open lawns of the park, 1965

Water garden

In 2003 this park was joined to a new park, into which the old grounds of the gasworks were incorporated. For this the American landscape gardener Kathryn Gustafson chose a path from east to west in several layers. From classical municipal garden to korfball pitch where there is space for sport and games to a water garden where residents can escape back into nature.

 

Statues in the Westerpark, 2005

Land art

The idea underlying these different zones is that over the years humanity has adopted a different attitude towards nature. Furthermore, this gives each spot in the park its own atmosphere. Gustafsons work often resides in the grey area between landscape gardening and land art.