2021 Merit Award

Un-Built Projects

Nelson Mandela Park: From Harbor to Vibrant Neighborhood Park

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Landscape Architect:


Project Team:

Gemeente Rotterdam


About the Project:

Identified by the City as one of the Big Seven (open space projects), the conceptual master plan for Nelson Mandela Park will create a much-needed central open space for the city’s south district, an industrial area along the waterfront that is home to a growing and increasingly diverse population. Here the city seeks to transcend its current park paradigm of landscape art and environmental performance to also embrace the multi-cultural milieu. An active community engagement process will inform the design of the new park, resulting in a place that is attractive and responsive to its heterogeneous stakeholders and that will provide a catalyst for future development in this urban district.

Special Factors & Additional Information:

Levee Park will create much needed open space through reclaimed coastal land, fully replacing an industrial relic with an ecological oasis. Inspired by the natural hydrology and tidal vegetation systems of the river, Levee Park celebrates the maritime heritage of Rotterdam, while harnessing the coast for the benefit of the future. The community and ecology driven approach give the park a unique identity within Rotterdam’s park system and waterfront.


Strategically, the Park integrates The City’s flood defense levee that runs adjacent to the east side. This design pushes the mass of the park horizontally to the southeast, while also raising the level of the park at the edge for a seamless connection to surrounding neighborhoods. This concept greatly improves on the existing levee that acts as a visual and physical barrier interrupting access and vital circulation. Also, one edge of the park will align a new promenade along a prominent commercial boulevard creating a welcoming gateway for the new active open space and insure a regular stream of everyday users.


The design team pushed to increase the size of the Park to allow for more community programming. The Park features multiple flexible lawn areas for community events, all-age play grounds in a shaded tree grove, a cultural center, two overlooks, and marsh walk. The water’s edge was conceived as a dynamic experience and features innovative tidal pools, wetland habitats, and integrates a local water taxi station. The necessary topographic shifts for flood protection became a resource for creating places and revealing views that are integral to the design.

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