Published on: 06 August 2018

Ton Jansen: the beauty of village, city and country

Ton Jansen: the beauty of village, city and country

Tenant in the spotlight

The Stichting Dorp, Stad en Land (Village, City and Country Institute) has had an office in the Groot Handelsgebouw for over 25 years. Together with his team, director Ton Jansen helps municipalities make the right choices in terms of environmental quality. How can you make a monument come into its own? Can I build a dormer on my house? How might buildings look around along a village perimeter? Dorp, Stad en Land gets presented with many different questions daily.

‘If your environment looks good, you will feel good and you will also want to be there.’

Beauty

‘Our institute’s goal is to preserve the beauty of village, city and country. If your environment looks good, you will feel good and you will also want to be there,’ says Ton. The team consists of 17 permanent employees and over 45 external advisors. ‘Thanks to a growing economy the work is picking up again. Since we were established in 1928, almost 90 years ago, we advise municipalities in terms of spatial quality and heritage. In 2021, a new environmental law will come into effect, as a result of which Dorp, Stad en Land will continue to expand its existing services and more strongly fulfil the role of knowledge partner for municipalities.’

Expert discussions

Before Ton became director, he worked for Dorp, Stad en Land for some years. Therefore, he knows exactly how things work in the field. ‘The best thing about this work is coming up with solutions. In fact, every question in respect to spatial quality is a problem that you need to find a good solution for. Of course, you can immediately say ‘no’, but we don’t want that. We also have internal discussions about it. For example, regarding solar panels on monuments. Should these be visible, or not? A municipality wants a sustainable image, but they also want to protect the cityscape. These are complicated matters you need to think through carefully.’

‘A resident doesn’t have to agree with you, if the person at least understands what the considerations are.’

The choices to be made impact not only developers and administrators of monuments, but also citizens who want to build or renovate their own home. ‘When you deal with the applications you see all the trends and styles pass by, that’s really interesting. We base our advice on the municipality’s policy. During consultation, you must be able to explain a choice to a resident. A resident doesn’t have to agree with you, if the person at least understands what the considerations are. We always try to work towards a solution. That is great work to do.’

‘I find it very special that a national monument can be so modern.’

Living monument

Dorp, Stad en Land knows all about monuments and their value. ‘The Groot Handelsgebouw is truly a national monument. It’s not only exceptional because of the architecture, but also because of its creation shortly after WWII. I find it very special that a national monument can be so modern,’ says Ton. ‘Because the Groot Handelsgebouw is structured around a grid of columns you can actually do all kinds of things here. And the spaces can be set up very flexibly. That Kleinhandel has been built in the old retail warehouses, I think that’s very cleverly conceived and a real addition. This keeps the building young and alive.’

Dorp, Stad en Land | Unit A3.207
Photo: Antim Photography – www.antim.nl | Unit E1.174.2

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