Category Archives: River

Lunch in Venlo NL

The other week my wife and I stopped for lunch in the city of Venlo, on our way to Wuppertal from Schipol airport. Venlo has a population of just over 101,000 people, with a population density of about 800 people per km2. On leaving the rail station we saw the Venlo bus station, which services 3 bus routes and 8 regional routes (Hamilton has over 20 routes). The station has drive-through berths, allowing bus stops to be located in a compact area, and also can allow buses to wait with their front destination sign facing the direction passengers will arrive from. I like the way the Dutch design tidy and uncluttered areas in a way very few other designers can do.

The city has a reputation for being Green. I did notice the electric bus charging stations, and but sadly I didn’t have time to look into their ‘cradle-to-cradle’ (C2C) principles; in the future I would like to explore this more, but for now here is an introductory explanation

‘The Venlo region was the first in the world to embrace the principles of cradle-to-cradle (C2C). It is a method that minimises the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices, so that products can be 100% recyclable and waste can serve as a raw material.’

Dutch cities are nicer than German cities. Venlo being close to the German and being part of the large Verkhrsverbund* Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) ticketing area, it attracts many visitors from there, and on the Wednesday we were there the city streets and squares were pleasantly busy. (*means ‘Transport network’)

What I did make time for was to take a look at Maasboulevard, promoted as ‘the place to meet’. I’ve visited many cities with river promenades; on sunny days these places attract plenty of people coming out to enjoy the open space and to people-watch, which is the reason why they need width. There is also evidence that residential apartments/homes with water views attract a premium, and add eyes on the street when retail has closed or on quiet days when it is not so sunny.


The day we visited it was a nice but quiet day on the river promenade, so we had a great lunch where most others were meeting, in the more active old market place.

Hamilton River plan 1980s

In the 1980s Hamilton city leaders had a vision:

“The closure of Victoria St would allow the formation of an un-fragmented pedestrian core to the central city, and of course this in turn, would provide unhindered access across to the important Riverbank Development … An open space in this situation demonstrates two important points. Firstly, [bring] the riverbank into the central core. Secondly, road space setback and low rise historic buildings are used to avoid excessive sunlight ordinances on surrounding sites.”

“A riverside promenade provides the opportunity of creating a series of outstanding central city open spaces with river views. Low rise shops and offices facing onto the promenade would screen the backs of tail building, service courts and service lane.”

Over the last 3 decades the Novotel respected the ‘setback’. Ibis and Sky city have built their parts of the ‘promenade’and the ‘low rise shops and offices’. Both Ibis and Sky city built potential shop fronts along the promenade, BNZ supplies the ‘offices’ and there is a good mix of restaurant/bars over-looking the promenade/river.

But after decades, and new promenades being built, there is a 4m long missing connecting link at end of Alma St, the existing connecting path is less than 1m wide, and the city leaders vision has moved south, with many more millions of dollars being spent.It should be possible to bridge this gap and the cost is not millions, it’s staying power. The 1980s utopian idea of “A riverside promenade … river views … Low rise shops … facing onto the promenade” hasn’t left the minds of the city leaders. They just need a nudge to look at how close we are to have a Victoria on the River to Claudelands Bridge real-world promenade, and its huge untapped potential for visitor and tourism opportunities.

To finish my concepts drawings below show how permeable the cities link along the river could be.



Category: CBD, News, Projects, River