Het Grachtenhuis Amsterdam
Het Grachtenhuis Foundation
Michael van Gessel
Jacqueline van der Kloet
Technique and supervision
Francien van Kempen
SeptimA Melange Half bond
Photos: © Marjan Sins
The museum about Amsterdam’s ring of canals is housed in a beautiful large mansion on a bend of the Herengracht. Behind this unique building which provides the ideal location for the museum, there is a spacious garden twelve metres wide and thirty metres long. While being exceptional for the area, the garden fits in perfectly with the status and the character of this building.
The garden used to consist of two adjacent octagons primarily landscaped with gravel. The only greenery consisted of a raised flowerbed, four acacias with typical round crowns and several larger trees around the edges of the area. Only the latter were included in the current design, along with a Robinia and a Ginkgo.
To give the garden the look that was required, Michael van Gessel designed a classical garden in the spirit of Hans Vredeman de Vries. He created a central flowerbed surrounded by a boxwood hedge with clean lines, in a pattern that is clearly visible from the building’s main floor.
At the same time, the plan of this central flowerbed serves as a reminder of the block pattern of the whole district which was designed according to the strict regulations of the early 1600s. These regulations remained in force until 1960, thus ensuring the continued existence of this type of green oasis in the centre of the city.
The boxwood hedges in the flowerbed are symbolic of the canal houses. The boundaries between the different areas are represented by the partitions made of COR-TEN® steel.
The plants and flowers in the middle of the flowerbed combine to form a colourful carpet all year round, bringing the neighbouring gardens to life.
The garden was paved using SeptimA Melange clay pavers with subtle shading which were chosen on account of the nostalgic, old look and feel of the material as well as its very low water absorption.
The tumbled and unsanded finish of these bricks contributes significantly towards the experience of the historical context of the garden.
Three water troughs, each containing two fountains, have been placed against the high wall of the adjacent building which delineates the southern edge of the garden.
To give these small elements the necessary weight within the dimensions of the garden and the building, large stone slabs have been installed behind each basin in order to reflect the pattern of the main floor.