The original separation between residential and working canals no longer exists. Even more notably, the warehouses are currently in use as homes, and businesses have actually been set up in former residences. This says something not just about the area’s appeal, but also about the multifunctional possibilities of the premises. It also demonstrates that a careful heritage policy goes hand in hand with a dynamic urban transformation.
Since around 1600, trees were systematically planted alongside every canal. It may be taken for granted these days, but at the time this was virtually unique in Europe. Green was thus a notable element in the new urban area. Along the wide quaysides of the Canal Ring the trees came into their own. In tight ranks along the straight canals they offered a modern aspect. At the same time they imparted a lively and picturesque atmosphere. The green contrasts splendidly with water and stone. Additionally, in the summer the trees provide comforting shade.
But the city fathers went even further in terms of green policy. In designing the Canal Ring, large residential blocks were drawn in between the canals. Here it was stipulated through ‘approvals’ that only half of the area of each narrow plot could be built upon. This brought about the creation of deep, square gardens behind the canal premises – something that had until then been a rarity in the city. In accordance with the fashion of the time, the gardens were developed in tight geometric patterns. The concept of ‘ornamental gardens’ exists to this day. And the 17th-century rules are still followed.