French Design | Blank Paper

French design on top of an almost blank paper.

Dear mr. Hofstede,

These days I try to imagine you as a young man, with the age of 35, having a stroll on the heathlands, that once surrounded our settlement of Assen. Wandering through a depleted landscape, scattered with bogs and pools. You just said farewells as a captain of the army and got a new position as a clerk of the Landscape Drenthe bearing the financial responsibility of  the Province. While strolling around, you must have noticed the empty and overgrazed land with small agricultural fields that would never offer enough profits for your future plans with Assen.

I can imagine your thoughts of replanting the barren heathland. Using the landscape as a forestry like I mentioned before in one of my previous letters. Designing the new Plantagie must have felt like planning on top of an almost blank paper. Or am I wrong in recognizing the emptiness of your environment?  

Historic map of the settlement of Assen

Assen ca. 1780, at the east-side of the map with the Asserbosch, the new Plantagie, at the southwest-side. The small settlement is surrounded with the emptiness, the so called ‘wilderness’, a heath landscape. The west side of the map is showing the cultivation activities of the peat-landscape. Zooming into Assen makes clear the huge surface of the new Plantagie versus the settlement of Assen. Bron: Drents Archief, kaart van de aanleg van de Haaler en Witter veenen, toegang 0181-183.


By the way, the clearing of the Asserbosch has just begun. Mostly in the southern parts of the forest, where the lps typographus is demarcating the woods. It is most remarkably how the forest is changing these days! The openness is creating new perspectives, new open sights but the clearings are also a woody mess. Especially at soggy soil, the heavy forestry equipment is writing muddy tracks in the woodland, as a consequence, the visibility of small paths reduces.

Because of my frequent running I thought to have the forest plan in my pocket, but nothing could be less true. Actually, wandering in a well-known place, offering confusion and astonishment is a special experience. Although, the messy, muddy disturbance of the upper soil layer does not complement your fancy French design!

I wonder if the harvested timber will generate some money despite of the deteriorations. Would it not be a problem when maintaining the Asserbosch costs money rather than being a source of income?

Featured image: intersection of sight axes, towards Asserbosch Feltscapes, november 2020

Yours sincerely,

Cora Jongsma, Landscape Researcher with Soft Mapping Practice

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