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Schonenvaert Haarlem

Schonenvaert is a sustainably designed residential complex in Haarlem, a new entrance to the  neighbourhood Schalkwijk. The development of the complex is part of an improvement plan that adds accessibility and more greenery to the periphery of the city.

Oasis in the city

The main building block is situated at the intersection of two busy roads: Schipholweg and Europaweg. Yet within the building block itself, there is peace and tranquillity. The structure coils around a small-scale garden space. Certain sections of the building rise high to protect the inner space from noise and wind; the highest point being at the high-traffic intersection. From this point the roofline slopes downward. The entrance to the building block is at the lowest point where a sense of peace and quiet is further strengthened by the addition of a large pond or Waterplein.

A green urban network

Via the water zone you can access Zonneplein (Sun Square) on the busier eastern side of the block. Here Europaweg has become an urban street full or greenery, shops and cafés. A new square opposite this (Spaarnepoort) completes the newly urbanised zone of this neighbourhood. Together they form another link in the chain of an improved urban network for Haarlem.

Inner garden

The inner garden is on the roof of the underground parking garage of the complex. The design of the landscaping references the former peat polder on which this development is built. Long and thin sections of land were typical for the polders, and this is reflected in the design of the footpaths. The garden is a continuous landscape of greenery, with enough depth in the ground for trees to take root. The landscaping undulates so that there are different levels with wet lows and dry higher sections. Paths of wooden planks hover above the inner garden. The vegetation includes trees and plants that are well-adapted to wet grounds, like alders, willows and yellow water-lilies. This reintroduces the original polder biotope to the inner garden.

Meet your neighbours

The building’s collective spaces border on the inner garden to facilitate small-scale get-togethers. Here residents can gather for drinks, yoga or a BBQ. The garden also offers plenty of benches to work or relax in the sun or shade.

Climate-adaptive landscaping

In Schonenvaert, water has been given ample space. In the inner garden, rainwater is absorbed by plants or collected and contained in a double system of storm water crates. The collected water is retained, then slowly released into the garden to prevent sudden flooding. This water is also connected to the big pond and an outer watercourse with banks full of plants, just outside the eastern facade of the building. Excess rainwater during peak times will therefore not be channelled into the sewage system, but flow into the surrounding watercourses and ditches.


The main entrance to Schonenvaert is a sunny square with pond. This Waterplein has water plants, water-lilies, natural green banks and a number of trees clustered on little islands. From this vantage point, you can already see the inner garden that awaits you. Waterplein is accessible after passing through a gate (on Europaweg) or via a bridge from the quieter pedestrian area. This is a brick bridge, in keeping with all the others bridges in Haarlem. There are two split entry points to the bridge, after which they merge into a single bridge over the pond. The paved square steps down towards the pond, making it nice area to sit close to the water.

Sunny roof gardens

Finally, on the roof of the building there are four sunny roof terraces. Shade is provided by the multi-stem trees in planters and climbing plants on pergolas. And there are seating areas where residents can enjoy a beautiful view of the city.

Location: Schalkwijk, Haarlem
Client: New Cheese Development B.V.
In collaboration with: OZ Architecten
Programme: design of collective courtyard, water space and roof garden for a sustainable residential building
Design team: Philomene van der Vliet, Jan Maas, BOOM Landscape Max Daalhuizen, Roshdy Eltonouby, Francien van Kempen (technical consultant).
Renders: Pixelpool
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