Bovenloop van een laaglandbeek/Upstream of a lowland creek 2004-2005

In a small village, Heesch, a new neighbourhood (De Hoef-2) was planned in 2003. The goal was set on a sustainable development, not necessarily focused on alternative energy and building methods but by taking the original landscape as point of departure and working towards a community by variation in types of houses. An artist was invited to contribute to raising awareness among the new inhabitants, awareness for the position of the new neighbourhood in the surrounding landscape, for the (cultural) historic features that defined the lay out of their streets, for the water management. The commission was understood as a role: the artist as an audible conscience, creating conditions to understand and researching the continuity of cultural responsibility towards the natural landscape. In 2007 part of the new area is build. Streets were named after creeks that are part of the same watershed. Each house has a river polished rock similar to the sediments of the river Maas below the soil on which the houses are build. In the rock a name of a plant, insect or animal living in the biotope of the upstream part of a lowland creek. The first inhabitants of the new houses could choose the name that they like, they got two rocks, one has to be put under the downspout, the other they will bring to a certain location in a park. The run off water from houses and streets all will feed to this small park zone. The design of the park is inspired by the lay out of local old estates. In a green border between two parts of the new neighbourhood high rise apartment blocks are build for species that have lost nesting opportunities. These 5 meter high constructions are build of left over materials and recycled plastics. Two roundabouts mark the entries to the area, both are treated as compasses build of beautifully coloured local bricks, demonstrating the slight inclination between the northern and the southern access road. A website ( ) was build with all kind of information on the former and present landscape, cultural historic information but also bike routes for a sunny afternoon in the surroundings. In close collaboration with Stan Elings Landscape architecture, Compositie 5 Urban Planning, but also thanks to many conversations with local experts and future inhabitants. Production: Jeroen van Westen, Steenatelier Johan Looije, Smile Plastics, Gemeente Bernheze