A desolate landscape
For a long time, the Peel was a marshy area, where the wild nature remained untouched and a thick layer of bog could form. Particularly in the second half of the 19th century, large-scale peat mining took place. The Helenavaart and the Kanaal van Deurne, each with a system of tridents with ‘wieken’, were constructed to drain the peat that was extracted. The two Peel canals are the silent witnesses of this characteristic period in the history of the Peel, a rich cultural heritage.
Along the Kanaal van Deurne there are also remains of casemates, once belonging to the Peel-Raamstelling, a line of defence built to keep out the German army during the Second World War.
What is functional we make special, what is special we make functional
Around the Helenavaart and the Kanaal van Deurne a special protected nature reserve has arisen, with places along the water that can be reached on foot or by bike. At these places you can experience the tranquillity of nature and reflect on the valuable cultural history of the area. These are the places that will receive extra attention during the major maintenance work of the Aa en Maas Water Board (optimising water infrastructure, combating drought and flooding) and will be provided with design elements such as decking, route closures and crossings.
Language of the landscape
A visual language has been developed for the furnishing elements, so that they form a unity and contribute to the special appearance of the area. The visual language is reminiscent of the former peat extraction and World War II: the striking history of the landscape and its inhabitants.
All design elements have simple straight and flat basic shapes. They are executed in untreated wood, grey powder coated steel and concrete. The wooden parts refer to the time of peat extraction and have the original dimensions of a peat block. Together they form a plane, which refers to the rhythm of stacked peat blocks. Vertical parts consist of steel shoes with a wooden upright. In this way they refer to the tools of the peat cutters and to the asparagus racks from World War II. Remnants of a casemate that once exploded are made visible by a flat semi-pavement in the shape of the former field of fire and thus marked as a cultural-historical valuable object.
Platforms, raft bridges and fences
Along the towpath of the Kanaal van Deurne there are a number of special places where it is nice to sit down or go fishing. A coherent series of wooden decking offers this possibility. The decks are slightly different because of the position of the seat or a step towards the water. The largest decking is combined with a raft bridge, which can be rotated to cross the canal in winter. The tranquillity of the path is maintained by closing the path at strategic locations with a steel gate, only pedestrians can pass the wooden poles around the gate.
For the benefit of the area's natural values, the ‘wieken’ on the Kanaal van Deurne have been closed. A number of ‘wieken’ becomes more visible again. The connection to the canal is brought back to its original size by bringing back a faint and sharp bend and making something of the original length of the ‘wieken’ visible again. Wooden movable bridge decks can be placed against the dam to allow maintenance vehicles to cross.