The new savannah in Emmen

A former city centre zoo will be turned into a city park with space for initiatives. Urhahn made the inspirational development framework.


    An empty zoo in the city centre

    The zoo in Emmen has relocated. Since the new zoo on the edge of the city opened in 2016, Emmen has a 12-hectare landscape in the city centre at its disposal. The centre of Emmen already has plenty of spaces and places for encounters: the Markt, the new Raadhuisplein. What can a park add to them?


    A simple concept

    Through intensive collaboration with the municipal project group, Urhahn developed a concept notable for its simplicity. At the heart of the existing zoo is the savannah: an open space separated from the surrounding paths by a ditch. This space will be retained and become the central open space in the park, enclosed by a pedestrian and cycle route. The ditch allows the savannah to be used in various ways: for grazing sheep in the winter, and as a bathing lawn and festival site in the summer. Bridges over the savannah mean the site is accessible and can also be closed off.


    Space for initiative

    The link between the market and the savannah is created by the cultural district. Here is space for the centre for visual arts, studios, music lessons and suchlike. They can start in the existing buildings and continue to grow in the new development. A lot more space for initiatives is available in the south-western corner of the park. A vital condition is that the green character of the park is respected and that initiatives contribute to the park’s vibrancy. That could include all sorts of things: a day-care centre, company showroom, education, restaurants, cafés. Emmen invites everybody to come up with ideas to turn the park into a lively and attractive place in the city.


    Previously, Urhahn has drafted a vision for the entire centre of Emmen.