- « This project gave us a more profound understanding of the area and its users. We were surprised and have continued our successful collaboration: a follow-up commission to integrate these stories in a sustainable way in the form of five new footbridges. »Martin Verweij, client and Utrecht province programme secretary
- « The project offers an innovative perspective on the relationship between man and nature, in contrast to the somewhat dogmatic and conservative approach of existing nature organizations. »Dutch Design Awards Jury, 2014
Project Hunnie (‘them’ in local slang) is a site-specific, participatory and performative action research focusing on the perception of the cultural landscape of De Bovenlanden, a characteristic expanse of peat meadow in the province of Utrecht (NL).
In advance of the Province’s definitive plan, designers Henriëtte Waal and Sophie Krier nominated by Utrecht’s Centre for Visual Art set out to explore De Bovenlanden, together with current (and future) users. Based on local and foreign expertise, Waal & Krier devised a series of Avonturen – ‘Adventures’: seasonal interventions that relate to the landscape, with the intention of broadening the perception and use of water, mud, clay, peat, grass and pollard willows, while giving an impulse to social interchange.
Waal & Krier incorporated the knowledge that the Adventures brought to light in the designs of several bridges and layouts that make the area accessible, as well as in tailor-made props for future visitors. This ultimately resulted in the realization of a field workstation (a cross-sectional table that relates the area’s evolution in four timelines), a field classroom (oak benches with various statements about nature inlaid into 2,400-year-old bog-wood oak), a showroom and jetties.
Hunnie offers an innovative perspective on the relationship between man and nature, in contrast to the somewhat dogmatic and conservative approach of existing nature organizations. Through hands-on collaboration with local experts such as hunters, biologists, dieticians, survival guides and water engineers, participants are taken off the beaten track, which leads to new forms of embedded knowing. The project breaks with classic ethnographic research methods; in Hunnie the interventions are nature adventures, which act as conversation pieces. This increases the attention people devote to nature and reaches a more diverse public.
This project was a finalist for the Dutch Design Awards.