Author Archives: Denise Piccinini

Following up former contributions of the chair of Landscape Architecture/TUDelft to the Oerol Festival we are this year developing our fifth project in the framework of Sense of Place – IOPM.

The 2017 project has just been named; PIN(K) A PLACE – Disclosing Landscape.

This year expedition project focus on Place and Perception and is located in a forest nearby Duinmeertje Hee.

Background and methods used during the design process.

Walking a straight line – immersive method

The first step of the recognition and mapping phase made on site was the introduction of an exercise when the students were asked to walk into the forest for the first time, not in groups but alone and remote from each other by about 30 meters, not using any of the existing paths but starting from the edges of the forest and walking into the forest in a straight line minding and making notes of the deviations – moments when, where and why they were inclined to stop or leave the referential straight line to research the particularities of the forest, coming back to the line after the recognition of a certain particularity continuing their journey along the line till the next moment of deviation happened.

By introducing this linear movement a qualitative recognition of the site was established; obstacles were encountered during the walk; the perception and ‘view’ of the students were drawn by events, objects, atmospheres along the way introducing serendipity into this mapping phase. The experiential dynamic of walking and the sensorial relationship with the site made the students much more aware of the particularities they encounter and the deviations they were inclined to make.

By noting this particularities and encounters a first map of capacities of the site were made. This exercise that was not meant, in principle, to collect hints for the project but be a recognition of what was there, has generated an unexpected affluence of material, perceptions, experiences and is still informing the project in its end phase. Not only the experiences and deviations on site are been inspiring but also the very exercise of walking as a research method, what confirms the importance of been conscious about the ‘steps’ taken during all phases of the design process.

The second step directly related to the walking a straight line exercise was to compare and discuss the experiences in the group trying to find out the way to match them. This phase revealed on one hand the tendency to describe tactile aspects of the site and on the other hand talk about feelings, remembrances, stories related to certain spots along the way, ending in a map overlapping different ephemeral encounters.

The most important conclusion of this brainstorm section, along with that of mapping the individual opinions or making lists of emotions, is the realization that each of us has a personal perception of the landscape. In this sense you could make as many maps and lists as visitors are of the same forest.

What remote back to understandings about place and perception the students had studied in the introductory phase like the Richard Muir’s book Approaches to Landscape where he also refers to another important researcher on subjects related to Place and Perception, Yi Fu Tuan; “In experiencing places, we simultaneously encounter two closely related but different landscapes. The real landscape, the objective one made by soil, vegetation and water. The other is the perceived landscape, consisting of senses and remembrances, a selective impression of what the real landscape is like… When the one departs, the landscape enduring in the memory to be recalled and recounted will be the one founded on perceptions, not the real landscape”(Muir, 1999).

Curation or the many authors approach / participatory research

Following up the above mention conclusion the design process stepped into two main directions; one searching for ways to give the visitor pre-defined experiences by introducing a narrative, or tools to enlarge existing features of the site. This projects refer to installations with a certain degree of interaction aiming to focus the perception of the visitor into specific aspects of the forest playing with the senses or giving to the visitors a different role than the one they are used to. A few examples of this approach are; marking the relief and high differences of the old dunes, or by amplifying sounds and views present in the forest, or using natural material available, or reporting the visitors to former ages of the same landscape.

The other direction searches for a more interactive approach where the user/visitor of the forest is a co-author and an integrative part of a research like project. This approach relates to more recently ‘bottom-up’ investigative strategies emerging as an attempt to offer a different form of analyses than the factual or theoretical one. In this sense the project has not one author but is a result of an overlapping of uncountable authors. In a curatorial way of doing research, the intention is to build a database of perceptions together with the visitors of the project stepping aside of the role as dominant creators and establishing a framework wherein the interaction can happen.

The above mentioned is a result of a process which took about three weeks of intensive search for a concept. In this design phase the students were shift several time under the different ideas. In principle the ideas remained, what changed were the students working on them, depending on their own interest. In such way some ideas were developed further, others were revaluated creating a groups cohesion where everyone can now identified with the end result. This way of work helps to reach high level concepts generating a massive amount of ideas, all of them somehow being part of the final project.

Final Project

PIN(K) A PLACE – Disclosing Landscape

Pin(k) a place is the final project, still in development, which will be built during the Oerol Festival, from 09 till 19 June.

Pin(k) a Place is a project that operates on the surface of the forest, overlapping the existing landscape without deleting or modifying it substantially. It is a project which has as premise to be reversible, impermanent but at the same time tries to provoke reactions, tries to choreograph a relationship in between the visitor and the landscape they are in. Its intention is the creation of a meaningful place by introducing icons to the landscape and engaging the user physically and emotionally. Its intention is also to be an interactive research of people’s perception of this landscape, to understand and document what is in there people feel the most attach to. Therefore the project opens a conversation with the visitor, stimulate their participation, mapping it and build a collectively authored archive of perceptions.

Literature and studies used to develop the mentioned exercises and phases are, for example: studies and experiments e.g. made by Ellen Braae trying to capture site-specific qualities of a site (Braae et al., 2013), Cosgrove considerations about maps and mapping in Mapping (Cosgrove, 1999), Land Art projects in which the act of walk becomes an artwork in Walkscapes (Careri, 2002), Richard Muir’s definition of a Place in Approaches to Landscape (Muir, 1999), Yi-Fu Tuan seminal books – Place and Space (19077) and Topophilia(1972), Ed Wall essay on an method how to create an interactive cartography (Wall, 2017).

Students Oerol 2017 – Bella Bluemink, Eva Ventura, Eva Willemsen, Federica Sanchez, Ge Hong, Ilya Tasioula, Jan Gerk de Boer, Joey Liang, Lukas Kropp, Maël Vanhelsuwé, Maximilian Einert, Michelle Siemerink, Qingyun Lin, Timothy Radhitya Djagiri, Yao Lu. Coordination and tutoring Oerol 2017 – Denise Piccinini and Rene van der Velde

 More information about our project?

Visit our website (still under construction)



The chair of Landscape Architecture is inviting you to a new series of events as part of our How-Do-You-Landscape lecture series – the HDYL Film Night.

Films are an exceptional communication middle to build narratives, document positions and transfer knowledge in an entertaining way. Dovetailing in with the lecture series, the screenings will address themes related to landscape and ways to understand it, order and act with it. The films will be based on contemporary themes such as walk-scapes, water-scapes, social-scapes, food-scapes and transport-scapes. Students of the master track Landscape Architecture are closely involved with the organization of the film in the role of curator and commentator in discussions around the topic. Students will introduce the theme and the film of the night with a short talk, followed by the screening and a closing discussion.

Our first Film Night on Thursday 18th February – 18.30, in room K, is on the theme of Disaster-scapes, the privileged ground for an array of questions in landscape architecture, urbanism and architecture. Increasingly part of our planetary condition, disasters are destructive events that radically disrupt environmental, spatial and social conditions. The role of spatial design disciplines in post-disaster environments is thus not only about reconstruction of territories, but is also critically encumbered with addressing trauma, loss and memory of past landscapes. Paradoxically too, post-catastrophe sites are also rich milieus for the examination of new ideas about nature, landscape and the human condition. Moreover, catastrophes often lead to paradigm changes in spatial development, policy and governance, and can catalyse dramatic technological and design innovations. And disaster landscapes are also forbidden places, generating stories of lost worlds and vague secrets.

Students Sarem Sunderland and Barbara Prezelj, will tease out some of these themes in the prelude to the film Stalker by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Sunderland contends that ‘Post-traumatic landscapes and memorial designs provide cases where the relation between landscape and memory is critical; in such cases, the transmission of memory through design becomes an assignment on itself – what is memory, how is it transmitted, and what role does space play in this transmission?

Prezeli will give an introduction to her work on Unfamiliar Territory:  ‘In my research I primarily focus on territory and territory-production and its relation to landscape. The ‘unfamiliar’ as I approach it is first the unfamiliar as found and then the unfamiliar as novel, something that is not scripted or pre-determined. Basically what I argue is that if landscape architecture has any role in connection to disturbed sites these days then it is not about healing what society has damaged but rather redefine the problem and consequently the intervention. So keeping the unfamiliarity, embracing contingency, engaging us critically, moving from a product (final image) to production’.

Stalker – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979 – Russia

Near a grey and unnamed city lies the Zone, an alien place guarded by barbed wire and soldiers. Ignoring his wife’s objections, a man rises in the early morning and leaves her with their disabled daughter to meet two men. He’s a Stalker, one of a handful who have the mental gifts (and who risk imprisonment) to lead people to the Room , a place in the Zone where one’s secret hopes come true. His clients are a burnt-out popular novelist, cynical, and questioning; and a quiet scientist more concerned about his knapsack than the journey. In the deserted Zone, the approach to the Room must be indirect. As they draw near, the rules seem to change and the stalker faces a crisis.’

Denise Piccinini and René van der Velde, with contributions from Sarem Sunderland, Barbara Prezelj .

posters_ film night

The location

The chair of Landscape Architecture of the Delft University of Technology is for the fourth time contributing to the Oerol festival – Sense of Place. This year we are located on the Eastern part of Terschelling, at Kaapsduin. Kaapsduin is part of a dune complex which has been stabilized by planting natural vegetation to protect the villages and the polder behind it of being covered with sand brought mostly by the most energetic wind wave coming from the northwest / north-northwest. The sand has been moving towards Kaapsduin where it encounters obstacles formed by human intervention. Due to this process Kaapsduin has being growing to a height of 31 meter, offering a splendid view of both the North Sea and the Wadden Sea. Since the 70’ part of the primary dune formations along the North Sea, in the face of Kaapsduin, are being opened and have been monitored since. On this part of the island sand is able to be blow into the island creating a formation called ’stuifduinen’ where special flora and fauna appears. This experiment is meant to understand which are the possibilities to let the island level up again, forming a natural defence against the sea level rise.

panorama at KaapsduinThe process

Like last year, we went this year to Terschelling for a three-day introductory field trip to Terschelling landscape. Throughout this field trip, we made several excursions on the island and visited the site location for the project. Additionally, students executed short brain storm sessions in the depot of Oerol and attended a lecture by Freek Zwart from Staatsbosbeheer. The main idea was to experience the dunes at Kaapsduin through the senses and by searching for the natural patterns, materials, and history related to it. These first impressions and experiences from the excursion to Terschelling together with bibliographical studies about the formation of the island and concepts of Land Art and Genius Loci were the starting point for further investigation in the atelier. Experiences and ideas generated during the field trip and studies in the atelier have led to several concepts for an intervention in the location that creates or enhances a ‘sense of place’. During these weeks several workshops were held with guest artist – Erick de Lyon and Irene Fortuyn – and experts on Terschelling and materials like sand – Albert Oost and Mark Voorendt – to boost new inputs and possibilities. This was the time to generate as many ideas as possible and check them trying to step over the own limitations, reaching the unexpected. Some of this ideas are pictured below as part of the process and final project.

The project

The aim of this year final project, which will be executed in a few days, is to express the dune landscape in a landscape artwork which addresses this sandy, hilly site in two ways; a scientific and a sensorial approach. The scientificpart of the project is to follow a path where information about the island will be given and through a booklet the visitors will get at the entrance of our project containing map, cross sections showing the evolution of the dunes and tools to measure for instance, how blue the sky is or the speed and direction of the wind. The main addressed issues are the origin, dynamics and formation of the dunes, the dune landscape succession and the most common fauna and flora to be find on the site. Here the time is expanded in order to explain the formation of the landscape through the last centuries. The sensorial approach explores the texture, colors, temperature, wind and sounds of the dunes. Here, the visitor is asked to leave the path. He/she will be accompanied to an isolated spot with specific landscape characteristics and marked by a special chair. The visitor will be left there for a while. The personal embedding in the landscape, the enclosure of the body with the surroundings, the lack of time pressure are supposed to bring the visitors closer to the place they are in and at the same time giving them the possibility of having an intimate/solitaire experience. The alternation of approaches unveil the characteristics of the dune landscape which are already there, giving the visitor new perceptions and triggering them to look closer, to understand better the dynamics involved in this landscape and put themselves and us further questions. The visitor can leave behind their experiences and thoughts which will be sent back to them of someone else at the end of the festival.

 Assignment coordinators and tutors of the Elective Landscape Architecture ON site, being part of Oerol 2014 (Elective Msc2-chair Landscape Architecture/TUDelft): Denise Piccinini and Frits van Loon. Students: Antje Adriaens, Maria Alexandrescu, Lila Athanasiadou, Berta Gruodytė, Jafeth Hagoort, Ruben Hoek, Rosa Hurkmans, Jingni Li, Robin de Louw, Pierre Oskam, Eva van Rijen, Koen Steegers, Mike Tomassen, Gabriela Villas Bôas, Veerle De Vries.

This year the chair of Landscape Architecture of the Delft University of Technology is for the third time annually contributing to Oerol. The project, named “Landscape Architecture ON Site, Being Part of Oerol 2013,” will be constructed on the festival site – the island of Terschelling. The aim of the project is to express the landscape of Terschelling in a landscape architectonic installation or research-guided methodology. We, the tutors Denise Piccinini and Michiel Pouderoijen, are currently working with a group of twelve master students of different backgrounds at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture. In only a seven-week period, the students will finalise their schematic designs for construction on the island of Terschelling. At present, we have thus far selected the strongest concept fabricated by the students for further detail development.

For the 2013 course agenda, we have adjusted the design process by structuring it into three main phases and a conclusive reflection. The introductory phase is about reading and discussing concepts and examples, comprising a field trip to explore the site and a more rational investigation in the atelier. On the first day of the studio, students were immediately confronted with some notions involved in this specific project for Oerol including aesthetics of art, crafts, temporality, interaction with the public, use of natural or artificial materials in relation to nature, being part of a building process, and methods like “learning by doing” implicit in the act of making. These preliminary days were instructive and critical to introduce the main themes of the project and construct a framework of references.

During a three-day introductory field trip to Terschelling, the context and identity of the place was defined by students mainly by sensory perception. Throughout the site visit, we made several bicycle excursions on the island and visited the possible site locations for the project. Additionally, students executed short brain storm sessions in the depot of Oerol. The main idea was to make a definition of place by experiencing it through the senses and by searching for the natural patterns, materials, and stories related to it. At the same time, students and teachers became acquainted with each other, with the island and with its inhabitants.

These first impressions and experiences from the excursion to Terschelling were the starting point for further investigation in the atelier in a more rigorous manner, where students went on studying and deepening some aspects they have found on site like the morphology of the island, the tide, wind, vegetation, etc. Experience of the place and results of the research formed the base for the project, which puts specific aspects of the landscape on stage at the Oerol festival.

oerol_2013_1_1oerol_2013_1_2The second phase consists of the development of concepts and materialization.
Experiences and ideas generated during the field trip and studies in the atelier have led to several concepts for an intervention in the location that creates or enhances a ‘sense of place’. These concepts were explored and developed in small groups which were constantly changing to generate as many ideas as possible. It is important to emphasize the fact that during the process the students were not working on one’s own idea through the end. Instead they were working on several ideas at the same time, since just one concept will be built during the festival. This method we introduced to avoid individual authorship, considering the production of concepts as main objective.

During these weeks several workshops were held with guest artist – Erick de Lyon, Paul de Kort and Irene Fortuyn – to boost new inputs and possibilities. This was the time to generate as many ideas as possible and check them and to try to step over the own limitations, reaching the unexpected. By inviting critics to give input and review the work, the students’ progress the ‘research’ on the different sites and themes in an informed way.oerol_2013_2_1



Top: Longway Symphony. Middle left: Eyecatcher. Middle right: Walking dunes. Below: Mapping the Moon

We are now into the third phase where the concept to be built is chosen and has to be further developed and planned. The choice for the concept to be built is made by Mariska Verhulst, project manager of Oerol, and the tutors this year. The chosen concept has evolved during the design process to an open and complex system where several of the other ideas the students have developed so far can be included. It mirrors a process we have been through proposing a design as process instead where the visitor plays the main role pointing out them favourite places on the island and handing the essence of the place in a test tube. It certainly has a potential to be explored not only this year but also in the years to come due the fact, as already said, it is a process starting this year with a inventory an experiments on several sites. The project has already got a name and a web address – The Institute of Place Making – www. The institute finds out and makes visible what the notion of place is about and how it evolves. It will do this by mapping, categorising and analysing feedback of visitors on their experience with Terschellings’ landscape and places. The results will be returned to the visitor through a website, and each day of the festival on a fixed time a manifestation will be held by us in a different location indicated by the visitors’ feedback. One of the results will be a map of the island with the values visitors endow to the locations on the island they visit. Another result will be 10 pop-up manifestations, once a day mostly reacting to the Genius Loci of the place. It all will be registered and documented on our website. During the festival, the institute will be located near ‘Duinmeertje van Hee’.

oerol_2013_3_1Denise Piccinini and Michiel Pouderoijen, Assignment coordinators and tutors of Landscape Architecture ON site, being part of Oerol 2013 (Elective Msc2-chair Landscape Architecture/TUDelft) Students: Kaegh Allen, Ilse van den Berg, Erik van der Gaag, Charlotte Grace, Bart de Hartog, Rogier Hendriks, Doris van Hooijdonk, Marleen Klompenhouwer, Emiel Meijerink, Eva Nicolai, Pépé Niemeijer, Sarah Roberts

The necessity of being in contact with nature and actually ‘bringing it back’, the nature-based needs in big cities and suburbs seem to be increasing and have taken many forms over the last years. The fact urban citizens nowadays are more and more interested in having a bit of green nearby whether it is a park, an own garden, an eatable roof or a green fulfilled pothole is undeniable. Insecticides, diseases, lack of biodiversity, the pleasure of eating of own ground on one hand and the increase of density, gray, hard material, unhealthy air and the climate crisis on the other hand are generating new creative concepts and bottom-up initiatives.

The scale of the actions, the way it happens and the personal/social involvement and participation can vary from the traditional going for a walk in a park or woods to growing own food if possible. We can take for example a self-regulated initiative, the gardening in public spaces or in a vacant spaces in the city as an useful contribution to temporary improvement of the urban fabric and a response to the political and economical changes in the city. Where very often spontaneous vegetation, which appears on site by accident, leads the design choices reinforcing natural processes.

Perhaps the most genuine of the nature-based needs actions are the guerrilla initiatives as the Guerrilla Gardener, a concept coined in the 1970s in the USA involving planting garden in someone else’s land. At that time it involved, among other initiatives, the use of ‘green granades’ or the ‘Molotov cocktails of gardening’ – filled condoms with seeds, water and fertilizer – which were tossed in empty lots. Today the concept has been evolved and is called GreenAid-Seedbombs and can be bought in gum machines.

Kim is one of the initiators of the GreenAid-Seedbombs and knew it will be important to work with local ecology:  “We have conducted a lot of research on plants native to various areas,” “We stress that we are very, very careful not to introduce invasive species. We take our time and work closely with different communities to make sure we have the right seed selection.” In spite of the fact the Guerilla Gardener can be found in several countries, the used species remain a local decision.

‘The real voyage of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ Marcel Proust (

Recipe: Seeds bombs for fun and non-profit

Somehow, this recipe feels just right for Easter weekend:
-Combine 2 parts mixed seeds (indigenous flowers, herbs or vegetables) with 3 parts compost.
-Stir in 5 parts powdered red or brown clay.
-Moisten with water until mixture is damp enough to mold into balls.
-Pinch off a penny-sized piece of the clay mixture and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a tight ball.
-Set the balls on newspaper and allow to dry for 24-48 hours. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to sow.
Throw the balls into vacant lots, pavement cracks, long-standing rubbish piles or anywhere that will benefit from a bit of random greenery.
(Source: The Guerrilla Art Kit, by Keri Smith)

Another sympathetic initiative of the guerrilla kind is The Pothole Gardener in London also named as ‘Hole of Happiness’ because the smile it causes. ‘We chose to garden next to The Ministry of Defense, not the most inconspicuous of guerrilla gardening locations. We had a visit from a lovely policeman who joined us for a while and told us we had made his day! He didn’t quite say he’d join us on our next adventure, but he did remark how the garden put a smile on his face’, tells the London artist Steve Wheen bringing greenery to the streets of London in miniature scenes. It is simple, adding; ‘my neighborhood has a distinct lack of green space and I’m a gardener with no garden’.


Of course the Guerrilla Garden already has blown into the Netherlands finding here a fertile soil. The Dutch culture has never had problems in taking away a pavement tile along the frontage to plant some sunflowers. The next step is the creation of vegetable gardens besides the ones of ‘beautification’. As the case of the bottom-up initiative to find along de Schepenstraat in Rotterdam, where some neighbours are gardening in the sidewalk berm, growing vegetables and flowers, making a barbecue. Next weekend, 21 and 22 April we are all invited to take part of an action. If you subscribe via you get a bag with broad beans seeds sent to your home. My bag has already arrived with seeds of  ‘Eleonora Vicia faba’ and ‘Helianthus annus’, some instructions and a pair of gloves. I’m still looking for a plot to put them in the ground for the same reasons of being a gardener with no garden at the moment.

As other initiatives of this kind it starts very small and has taken a lot of attention, which makes people involved as Richard Reynolds, author of the book ‘On Guerrilla Gardening’, last year in Rotterdam for a lecture in Het Schieblok/Premsela and at Lowlands,  thinking in an enlargement of the scale of his action ‘to repair the man made damages on the environment’.

These kind of action can be experienced like readymades (objets trouvés) that, in spite of the fact they are very small, they have the power of an acupuncture treatment  of addressing the problem of how we are covering the surface  with a coat of cultural/hard material and pointing out where the ‘The Holes of Happiness’ with its living, fertile material can be find. They address not only the small holes in the closed paved streets of a compact city, but also, on another scale, they remind us of the unnamed open spaces in the agglomerations of big cities and on an even bigger scale, the still left lungs on earth.