PROJECT: Kralingse Bos

Once part of the enourmous peat lakes between Rotterdam and Gouda, Kralingse Bos is now one of the most well known and valued parks in The Netherlands. It was built using harbour sludge, debris from the bombing of the city centre and the hands of unemployed labour throughout the 1930’s. 


  • At the beginning of the 20th century, the Kralingse Bos development initiated on an old peat extraction site.
  • It was constructed during a time of rapid industrialisation and urbanization.
  • The basic requirements for generating this area was to improve the infrastructure. The opening of the Nieuwe Waterweg in 1872 allowed a better connection between Rotterdam and Germany. The Suez Canal allowed more traffic between Europe and Asia, giving a boost to the European Harbours.
  • As a result, the Rotterdam harbour became more significant. After the port was modernized it needed a bigger harbour basin for the expansion.
  • The population of the city tripled and demand for city parks increased to accomodate these changes.
  • In 1928, the worldwide economic crisis had a huge affect on Rotterdam and many people became unemployed. Money allotted to construct the Park began to run out.
  • The municipality of Rotterdam was put under financial supervision of the central government.


  • Kralingse Bos was used as a job creation scheme for the unemployed during the economic recession.
  • Its main goal was to combine the improvement of the cities quality of living (pollution/lack of green space and recreational facilities) with water safety and the winning of land from water on the north eastern part of Rotterdam.
  • Provide compensation for the extension of the harbour.


  • The council of Rotterdam designated more than 200 hectares of land for development from an old peat plant.
  • The area known as Noordplas, was considered too deep to drain and so became an ideal location to situate the park.
  • The unemployed were used as cheap labour to save money.
  • The remaining sludge and debris from the bombing of the city centre was used as the core materials during the construction phase.
  • An efficient and skilled planning department.


  • This job creation scheme enabled the unemployed to work for the public works on a minimum wage while providing cheap labour for a significant civil engineering project.
  • Two projects were connected. Construction of the Waalhaven in 1907 (the largest harbor basin in the world) was cleverly connected to the development of the Kralingse Bos. The sludge drained from the basin was used to raise the low-lying polderland around the lake, creating a base for the park.
  • The combination of water issues, the need for an increased quality of living and the extension of the harbour became a long term development for the city.


  • The initial design of the park was made by G.J. De Jongh, the director of public work who had a huge interest in harbour development.
  • The design was made by the city government.


  • The project created short term employment.
  • Kralingse Plas and Kralingese Bos improved Rotterdams city life by providing recreation, water and better quality of air and micro-climate in the city.
  • Currently, Kralingse Plas is one of the best known recreational parks in the Netherlands.
  • Kralingen is now a top rated area in Rotterdam. Ground prices around the Kralingse Bos are considered to be the highest in the city.
  • In 2009, Kralingse Bos/Plas won an award for Best Public Space.
  • The Kralingse Bos is an important part of the regional recreational structure of the Southern Randstad. It is linked together through water, rail, metro, car and many recreational routes.


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Project info




1911 - 1953


City park initiated during economic boom and constructed during economic crisis


Positive - short-term: employment, dump-site harbor sludge, long term: xx visitors per year, city identity




Municipality, National Government, Civilians