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Just below Leeuwarden, just south of the Frisian capital, are the vast meadows, for which Friesland is known. In the distance you can see here and there an elevation in the landscape, the mounds, on which the old Frisian villages settled centuries ago. From my childhood home, on the edge of town, this was the view I grew up with. And as I grew older, the city grew with me. I decided to set out through the new city district to rediscover the history of the land and delve into the future of the area.




“And if I were worth âlder, the city grew mei my mei.”


The land on which the Zuidlanden district is built has a rich history. The first inhabitants settled here more than 2000 years ago, to settle on the fertile soil along the banks of the Middelsee. To defend themselves against the tide of the water, they built mounds for living and farming. Now, years later, people live and build in this same place again, with a nod to the history of the country and importance for the landscape features and cultural-historical elements.


The structure of the area is quite unique. De Zuidlanden is not just one neighborhood within the city, but a district that is made up of different neighborhoods. The six hamlets, named Wiarda, De Klamp, Goutum Sûd, Techum, Unia and De Hem, have strong architectural similarities with the Frisian villages in the area, but are each different in character.


Techum, which was the first to be realized, is named after the farm of the same name that is still located in the area. The center of the hamlet is made up of narrow streets and dense buildings. The buildings are high and narrow with tiny front gardens and although the houses are similar in style, no house is exactly the same. The color of the roofs varies and the facades all have their own design. The backyards are, in contrast to the front gardens, very deep. This makes Techum excellent for starters and families.

On the edge of the hamlet are houses with larger gardens, some of which are located on the water. At the heart is the Bleek, a green field that is suitable for recreation, sports and village events. The bleach is also located on the water, so you can also moor a boat there in the summer.



However, water sports enthusiasts should look for a home in the hamlet of Wiarda, where water is the central theme. The structure is very different from that of Techum. There is no village square or pale, but a harbor basin where the various canals come together and many bridges that give the hamlet a playful appearance. Most of the houses are built on larger detached lots that are adjacent to ditches and canals, but 54 warehouse houses have also been built. The warehouse houses give Wiarda a unique skyline. You notice that the connection with the water is very important here and is interwoven throughout the entire hamlet. The disadvantage of this is that the focus is mainly on water sports. The hamlet is quite concise, so there is not much space for outdoor recreation (on land). Fortunately, the hamlet is close to Goutum, the village on the edge of the city where my parents live and where I grew up. Goutum has facilities such as a large playground, tennis courts and a multifunctional skating rink, which is used for sports and games in the summer.



Between Goutum and Techum lies the small hamlet of Goutum Sûd, which is architecturally based on the mound villages in Friesland. Many old ideas have been given a new look here. A real 'eye-catcher' is the church building in the hamlet. The building has the appearance of a historic church with a retro design, but has been used as a residential destination for apartments. The houses that are situated around the church and in the rest of the hamlet are located on compact residential streets in a nodding pattern with plenty of space for walkers and cyclists. The homes in Goutum Sûd are somewhat smaller compared to the other hamlets, but due to their affordability they are suitable for starters and small households.




De Klamp is the most recently completed hamlet, although they are still under construction in some places. It offers the opportunity to live in a rural way, close to the city. Many different forms of housing can be found, such as collective private commissioning, where people buy a plot, but build a semi-detached house here together with the future neighbors. The hamlet has many squares, including a handball field, where Frisian sports can be practiced. It is also a pleasant place for children. The streets are quiet, so it is safe to play outside. There is also a lot of traffic through this district. To reinforce the idea of rurality, the banks of the canal have not been reinforced, but can be admired in their natural form from the water or from the adjacent gardens.


Unia and the Hem are the last two hamlets of the South Lands and are not yet built on, although they are both in the preparatory phase.


In addition to all these hamlets, the Zuidlanden also offers the possibility of what they call 'Special living'. These are smaller areas, spread throughout the district, each with its own starting point. There is room for houseboats and the building of Tiny Houses and to the south of Goutum on 'It Grien', welfare-free construction with its own energy supply is permitted. On the edge of Techum is 'Erf 8', on which 8 semi-detached barn houses have been built.

In my opinion, the initiative is very inventive, because it breaks with the project construction that you see a lot in new neighborhoods. However, I find the effect less in some places.  For example, the lots of 'Erf 8' are in the sun, which creates a dynamic image, but the character of the barn houses, which must connect to this rural concept, is not reflected well in the architecture of the buildings. This, in my opinion, somewhat loses the strength of the concept. At 'It Grien' you can see that special homes have been designed by the residents due to the welfare-free construction, but that cohesion is lacking. This has two sides. Although it looks a bit messy, it breaks with the repetition of the new construction in other places and that creates a lively effect.



The municipality and the city of Leeuwarden have high ambitions in the field of sustainability, which is reflected in the South countries. For me personally this is also very important and something that I would like to run as a common thread through my career as a designer/architect. The examples that I encountered during my 'discovery journey' are therefore certainly an inspiration for my own designs in the future. Buurtschap de Klamp offers, among other things, the option of fully electric living and in the southernmost tip of the Zuidlanden area there is a solar park that can supply the houses in the area with green electricity.


What stood out for me was the boiler house north of the hamlet of Techum. This boiler house provides district heating by means of biogas, from the Dairy Campus just below Leeuwarden. This is a breeding ground for education and new technologies, where various organizations work together on innovation. The biogas is converted into heat in the boiler house, which is then used to heat the houses in the surrounding area. This is admirable in itself, but the building's housing has a remarkable design that immediately caught my attention when I saw it. The brick red color of the geometrically shaped panels forms a special contrast with the green nature that lies behind it, both in color and shape.

During my research I took the time to take pictures and sketches of several special buildings in the area, including the boiler house. At home I worked this out further. While strolling through the tall grass to take a good photo, I saw that there is a lot of waste in the neighborhood. The nearby McDonalds also lends a hand. In the theme of sustainability, it would therefore be an idea to place more garbage cans, so that the waste can be disposed of in an appropriate way.


Techum is the hamlet that was developed first and this is also noticeable in the positioning and quantity of the facilities in the district. De Zuidlanden has two (primary) schools, one of which is located in Techum. Parents can also go to both schools for childcare and after-school care. One of the schools is a Christian primary school, which means that attention is also paid to the importance of religion within the neighborhoods.


For care, residents can go to the historic farm in Techum, Techumerpleats, which I spoke about earlier. The farm has been converted into a health center and is equipped with a general practitioner, dentist, physiotherapist, psychologist, home care, pharmacy, people dieck center and a practice for obstetrics and maternity care. That's a great offer in one place. For the majority of the South countries this is not a problem, although I think that the residents of Wiarda will move to another part of the city, because the connection to the health center from that hamlet is not optimal.


Shopping options are very limited. There is one supermarket and there are no other shops or specialty stores, so there is a good chance that the residents will have to look for their groceries (partly) elsewhere. Eating out is possible in the city or in the southern tip of the district, where a large Van Der Valk hotel with restaurant has recently been built. In the same place you will also find activities, some of which are still under construction.



The focus of the facilities is on recreation, sports and water sports. These three elements are inextricably linked to the hamlets and go well with the theme of 'rural living' in this wetland area. Wiarda has its own sports complex with fields for football and halls suitable for many ball sports. In the Klamp you will also find many other fields that are suitable for recreation, in addition to the handball field. Techum has an ice rink where you can skate in the winter and many cycling paths, walking routes and waterways (which are ideal for water sports) run throughout the city. Techum even has a city garden where organic vegetables are grown.

Although there is an abundance of recreational opportunities, I lacked the development of art and culture. The Tiny Houses, which are part of 'special living', arouse the feeling of creativity and ingenuity, but the hamlets do not offer any opportunities to express these qualities. There is no cultural center or a place for the performing and visual arts. Also in the structural vision of the district no attention is paid to this.

Although I understand that the focus is on recreation and sports, the development of a 'makers pace' could provide a multifunctional space for many parts of art and culture. A varying offer can match the needs of the residents, making it a useful contribution for the hamlets. In this way, a little more balance can be created in the facilities within the neighborhood and a meeting place may also be created, so that the neighborhoods are also mutually connected.


All in all, the hamlets of the Zuidlanden, with their unique concept in terms of layout, form an interesting development and expansion of the city of Leeuwarden. Going out on my own has given me a lot of new information and I feel more connected to this new addition to the city, which is closely related to the village of Goutum, where I grew up. The visual material that I obtained during my journey through the Southlands, I captured in photos and small sketches, which I then developed into illustrations and animations. In order to better represent the large amount of information, I have mapped the hamlets.

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