Tour of Delft and Neighborhoods

 We were first given a guided tour with Peter Furth and Robert Bertini, and then were asked to team up with the Northeastern University students to explore three neighborhoods built within different time periods. I will briefly reflect on each neighborhood and highlight design features I found interesting.

Voorhof (1960’s)

Voorhoof plan view

Voorhof

Voorhof was built in the 1960s during a time when “tower in the park” style developments were popular in suburb construction, first popularized by construction taking place  post-WWII on the outskirts of New York City (headed up by Robert Moses). High rise apartment buildings were constructed with wide public green spaces and large areas devoted to storing and moving automobiles. Since its construction, many of these spaces have been infilled, converted to local streets, or turned into more green space. In some cases, market trends have propelled the replacement of the high rise apartments with shorter buildings (3 to 5 stories) in a less dense configuration, so that people can have more small private open spaces instead of large public lawns.

One of the defining features of the area is the especially large rights-of-way (ROW), which are generally at least 120 feet on the main thoroughfares. These used to be fast-moving, high-volume, multilane roadways, but have since been converted to 1+1 or 2+2 roadways with separated bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure along the alignment. One of the standout areas is the roundabout indicated in the above map, which accommodates motor vehicles, rail transit, bus transit, bicycles, and pedestrians extremely well. This large roundabout would not be able to be installed in many places, as the sufficient ROW is hard to come by, but in this case the development style had created large spaces between buildings in which the roundabout could be installed. Below is a first-person video of me riding once around the roundabout, with views of conflicting traffic yielding; as bikes have priority throughout the entire roundabout. It’s a bit shaky since it was taken on my phone, but it’s fairly easy to convey how easily the intersection works.

Tanthof-Oost (1980’s) 

Tanthof-Oost

Tanthof-Oost

Tanthof was built in the 1980s after the Netherlands had shifted priorities away from providing access for automobile traffic; and it is clearly evident in the design of this neighborhood. Our group explored the east section primarily (east is oost in Dutch). Distribution roads form the borders of the neighborhood, while Dutch style woonerfs, pedestrian plazas, and pedestrian/bicycle paths form the interior access network. The master planning of neighborhood was clearly evident, from the central square with some basic shopping needs to the purposeful but beautiful nature areas. Canals criss-cross the neighborhood, which is made up of mostly rowhouse style residences. Most of the residents still own automobiles, but the neighborhood is well connected to the city’s bike network and there is a negligible amount of car traffic. I assume that like many bikeable Dutch neighborhoods, the automobile is only used for infrequent long distance trips.

Woonerf in Tanthof-Oost. Notice Holland banners for World Cup.

Woonerf in Tanthof-Oost. Notice Holland banners for World Cup.

Delfgauw (2000’s)

Delftgauw

Delfgauw

Delfgauw is a rather large neighborhood that is only partially within Delft’s municipal boundaries, the rest of the neighborhood lying in the neighboring town to the west, Pijnacker. It has the widest variation in housing types of the three neighborhoods visited, which is widely considered now to be part of the best practices of designing master planned neighborhoods. There are seperated single family houses, rowhouses, split level houses, and apartment complexes scattered in clusters throughout the area. There are both general and specialty shops located in the central “Emerald” area (see below).

Emerald -- Shopping and Apartments

Emerald — Shopping and Apartments

There are many interesting street and intersection treatments within this neighborhood, as there are a variety of housing and intersection densities spread throughout the area. Woonerfs are again present, as well as more typical local and distributor roads. One road I found especially interesting was a road at the eastern edge of the neighborhood, which used to be an old country road. It still sort of is, on one side you have housing and the other rolling grasslands with cows grazing. The country road hasn’t changed much, other than to better accommodate bicyclists. This was done by work on both the road itself and the surrounding network to make it less desirable  as a through road. The road itself received advisory bicycle lanes and improved crossing treatments, both of which are illustrated in the sample photo below.

Crossing in Delftgauw

Crossing in Delfgauw

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