Dezeen Magazine

Vondel Verses by Anouk Vogel and Johan Selbing

Landscape architect Anouk Vogel and architect Johan Selbing have won a competition to design new lighting and furniture for the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Their winning entry, called Vondel Verses, includes designs for a kiosk, a park bench and a lamp post.


Each design contains a different organic motif such as birds in the frame of the bench.


The furniture is made from cast iron and painted black.


The concept will be extended to other items, such as drinking fountains, signposts and litter bins, and will gradually replace existing furniture in the park from 2010 onwards.


Below is some information from the designers:


The last jewels are added to the crown after ten years of renovation of the Vondelpark.

A professional jury has unanimously chosen the design of Anouk Vogel and Johan Selbing as the winning proposal in a competition for the new park furniture of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

The renovation of the most famous park in the Netherlands is coming to an end in 2009, after ten years of restoration work. The Vondelpark is one of the most beloved and well-visited parks in Holland, counting up to ten million visitors per year. Since 1996, the park is also listed as a Dutch national heritage site.

Originally built on peat, the Vondelpark has gradually been sinking since its inauguration in 1877, and is now lying two metres lower than its surroundings. Starting in 1999, an ambitious program to solve the problems related to water management has made parts of the park inaccessible for visitors. Together with a new drainage system and special foundations for the trees, the municipality is also busy restoring much of the original layout of the park, designed in a romantic English landscape style by father and son Zocher.

The final step in the renovation program of the Vondelpark will be the replacement of the park furniture, which today consists of an agglomeration of standard elements from different periods. In 2007 the city organised an open design competition in order to find a unifying style for all the elements in the park: benches, lamp posts, kiosks, public toilets, drinking fountains, litter bins and signage.

From a total of 79 proposals, five teams were chosen to work out three elements further: a bench, a lamp post and a kiosk. On the 13th of February, the winner of the final phase of the competition was announced at the architecture centre ARCAM in Amsterdam. The jury found the proposal “Vondel Verses”  the most fitting to the character of the Vondelpark, unanimously advising the municipality to realize it.

The proposal “Vondel Verses” by landscape architect Anouk Vogel and architect Johan Selbing, takes its inspiration from the original ideas of the Vondelpark, which is designed in a romantic-English style. The park has different characters which together form a whole. This variation is illustrated by the application of different motifs in the frames of the bench, inspired by the flora and fauna of the location. The vegetal motifs are brought further in the design of the lamp post which slightly resembles the bud of a daffodil, and the kiosk which is covered by a cut-out pattern of ivy.

Keeping in mind the extreme wear and tear of park furniture, the designers wanted to combine the elegance of the ornaments with robust and simple materialisation, creating comfortable, functional and sustainable furniture. Focus has also been on creating elements that blend with their surroundings, but also to emphasize the character of the Vondelpark. All the furniture is coated in black, relating in this way to the existing fences around the park.

The jury, including architects Jo Coenen and Liesbeth van der Pol, praised the romantic and contemporary character of the design, calling it “Zocher in the 21st century; designed with the computer, but realized with craftsmanship in cast iron.”

The follow-up to the competition will be the realisation of the new furniture, including all other types of elements in the park, such as drinking fountains, signboards and litter bins. The municipality will start to gradually replace the existing furniture in 2010.