Towards a new approach of park-design policy in the Netherlands

On the basis of recent research by MattonOffice on perception of turbines, and the technical development of huge turbines a new approach of park design and the developing process is tested in the Netherlands. In the process the focus is put on possible design options and coalitions and much less on hindrances and impacts. As a consequence the discussion agenda is not only dictated by opposition but opposition is integrated in the design process.

The perception of turbines

Recent studies on the perception of windturbine-parks and on the ‘language’ needed to assess their visual impact gave arguments for a new approach of park-design and a new policy-strategy in the Netherlands. A more comprehensive and integrated approach is emerging.

SenterNovem finished a study on spatial-perception and design rules, the Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research published a study on the spatial impact of the renewable energy and the Province of Flevoland carried out a study on the spatial design criteria. New in these studies is the approach of visual impact of turbines. As the machines are so big that they never can be fitted into the landscape,  the focus has changed to the design of new landscapes with the use of these big turbines.


‘Windparks must be fitted into the landscape’, is a yet common opinion and even basis of  formation and geometry-form prescriptions in national and provincial spatial policy. But the studies show that the basic values used like ‘scale’ and ‘openness’ of the landscape are not well understood  and are based on a romantic landscape perception. Landscape itself is a social-cultural concept.

As a consequence these classical policy-rules in the Netherlands do not cope with reality. Besides the understanding of the social-cultural idea of the landscape a better understanding of the technical development of turbines is needed. Most turbine proprietor do want to build higher machines. With increasing height the distances between the single towers increases, and hence the geometrical formation can not visually be experienced but on further distance of some kilometres.

So the questions which have been met in the Flevoland research  are by what criteria and by what terms and language can the assessment of landscape and turbine formations  take place.  How can design rules be formulated to help landscape architects, and in what terms should discussion with the public take place. 


The main focus of the new research is  how wind-parks should be designed  with respect to  the viewpoint of the moving observer . The theoretical perception of geometrical formations moving along different lines along and through parks is studied and the theory of perception is used to understand its impact on the observer.  Park-design itself  was subject of local workshops, thus increasing the support for new development. Park design ends with several design options and all agents involved in the process can meet in the end with a common spatial concept. So park design is result of an comprehensive interactive process bringing together all relevant participants in the region including the public.

To assess the new designed  formations, explanations about the choreography of the moving rotors, the language the turbines speak, and the design principles are explained and discussed. A new creative way of looking and percipience of turbines is emerging in the design sessions.. Park design means design on the scale of the whole province. The process ends with several design options

New policy

This open approach gives possibilities to activate other interests which cohere with the new park development, like nature development and recreational development.  Nature development as a coherent aspect of park development and design brings the possibility of new coalitions with nature-conservation organisations

In the province of Flevoland even those opposed to windenergy, due to the impact on the landscape are integrated in this process, as improvement of landscape quality leads consequently to the prospecting and design of new sites in order to diminish the as badly experienced ones.

In Flevoland the  trend is towards bigger projects with bigger wind turbines deminishing detached turbines and repowering and changing small parks. Megawatt-sized machines in new designed formations will be a common  solution as space for siting is scarce, and  megawatt machines exploit the local wind resources better.

The lessons learned from research and the pilot design will lead to a new policy on regional level in which design and coherent interest are stressed instead of impact of hindrances. It is obvious, that this discussion might influence the national policy as well as Flevoland produces more than 40 % of the Dutch windpower.


Ing. Albert Jansen


the dance of the turbines