top of page



Research ways to encourage and support sustainable tourism. In the historical village of Frederiksoord.



Meet me in the Garden is a storybook and garden experience. Brought to you by the forgotten plants sitting in Frederiksoord's former horticultural school gardens.

In the book, these plants tell you about themselves and how you could help them out. Some might even reward you in return. 

Project from exhibition Studio of Benevolence

My Role 

Research & Design



* Client collaboration with                    Hosted by design studio 



Frederiksoord was the first colony built for the

Society of Benevolence in 1818.  A social experiment to eradicate poverty in the Netherlands.

Cooked up by Dutch politician and officer, Johannes van den Bosch with backing from King William I.

Poor and disruptive citizens, in the overcrowded Dutch cities, were sent off to the fertile Northern province of Drenthe. Where they were provided

with a house, land and trained to be farmers.

The society eventually failed but the village architecture and history remain.

During this project, Frederiksoord was up for nomination as a UNESCO world heritage site. Because of its unique history. 


The nomination posed exciting and daunting new things for this tiny village of around 250 inhabitants.

By visiting and staying in Frederiksoord, I got to know its residents, history and explore the surroundings.







Book research:

Many places have become affected by mass tourism, for example, the Isle of Skye in Scotland which was flooded with tourists after Game of Thrones filmed on location. 

Causing damage to the landscape and a nuisance for the locals. Some areas have dealt with new visitors by creating tourist taxes or limiting the number of people in certain areas. 


  • What do you find special about your village? 

  • What is something you don't want to change?

  • What changes are you looking forward to?

  • What do you think is important for the village to do, to accommodate more tourists?

Door to Door: 

The residents of Frederiksoord were knowledgable and welcoming. Inviting me for tea and sharing their worries, wishes and expectations for tourism in their Village. 

Map of the village with sketches, notes and photos from my research trip.


The analysis includes the formulation of clear goals.

To set up a direction for the ideation phase.


The main reasons for tourism in Frederiksoord are:

  • Escape from cities

  • Being in nature

  • Connecting to Dutch history. 


Visitors are also generally young families and older couples or groups. 



Goal 1:

Address these experiences in the design, to make a relevant service for all possible visitors.


While the Society of Benevolence failed, horticulture and farming knowledge lives on in the village. 


Through the gardens of the former horticultural school, the gardening without borders foundation and the local biodynamic farm.


Goal 2:

Connect visitors to the plant knowledge that lives within the village.


The villagers want to share their knowledge and stories with visitors. Without being bothered in their daily lives.


Frederiksoord is a very welcoming village with smiles and helloes around every corner. But, no one wants to lose their personal space and peaceful village to constant bothering and questioning from tourists. 

Goal 3:

Create an experience where visitors can learn about their surroundings in a clear and simple way. 


Further Research & Ideation

As I moved into the products ideation phase I compiled my 4 goals in reaction to the research analysis into a new goal to help steer my process.

Ideation Goal:

Create an experience to share the horticultural history and stories of the village gardens.


Back in the Frederiksoord, I refocused my attention on the former Horticulture school. While locals could walk through the gardens if they wished, most of the time they were empty. This space in the village is perfect for use by not only tourists but also the residents. Without having to invest a lot of time or money the gardens could welcome visitors quickly and sustainably. Located directly by the bus stop where visitors enter the village it's the perfect welcome location.









Further Research:

Right next door to the former gardens is the Gardening without Borders organisation. An initiative to make gardens accessible for people with disabilities. I spent a day with the gardeners, gathering information and ideas of how the old school gardens could be utilised.


Currently, organisation members said they used the former school gardens just next door as a space to walk their dogs but not for much else.

The gerard van swieten horticulture shcool was - - ---  --

Exploring the history state of the former horticultural school gardens. Images from the Drents Archive.

Visiting Tuin Zonder Drempelst (Gardening without borders) to learn more about plants, techniques and garden accessibility.

Prototype 1

The initial idea was to encourage people to connect to the earth and plants by becoming active in the gardens, weeding, clearing and trimming. 

Learning about their surroundings by becoming active in them. Providing people with tools they could utilise while strolling the gardens. Making it a space for everyone, shaped by anyone.



Comments on the idea from myself, my peers and members in the community.

  • Tools need to be safe for all ages.

  • To avoid messing up the garden and killing everything people need clear instruction or ​suggestions of what they could do there.

  • There would be no consistency in the garden, which could make residents uneasy. ​(In the Netherlands, clean and ordered gardens are preferred).

  • Not everyone is interested in gardening, but still might want to gain knowledge and stories bout the plants.

Working in the garden, exploring tasks that people could do.

But then!

Something dramatic happened which changed the course of this project.

The King of the Netherlands came to visit Frederiksoord for the -----.

The council had decided to 'clean up' the garden for his visit. This so-called 'cleaning' meant ripping out half the species of the garden. The plants that had spent years growing and adapting to their surroundings the plants I'd got to know and discover now in a pile of compost.

BEFORE                                                                                                                                                                         AFTER


While yes, plants grow back, just as these plants grew once before. Is this a sustainable way to develop? Without consideration of the history that lies in the garden. 

One villager noted: "It now looks like a football pitch, and we don't even have a team"


Prototype 2

In reaction to the drastic changes in the garden, I wanted to give the plants and residents the opportunity to voice their opinions.


I had already researched the plant's characteristics and behaviours so it was easy to imagine what kind of characters they would be if they were animated. Using the idea of anthropomorphising* the plants to encourage visitors connection and appreciation fo them.


Comments on the idea from myself, my peers and members in the community.

  • This aesthetic doesn't connect to a wide range of visitors. 

  • Using digital media in this way will be expensive to implement in the real garden. 

  • Many people found the idea of plants talking to them amusing and engaging.



*The act of giving human characteristics or behaviours to animals or objects.

Video mockup.

Prototype 3

To communicate my process with the client I created

a short research booklet using imagery from my research. 

Creating this research book for the client helped to me develop the visual style for the prototype.

Making the design more reflective of its users and subject matter.


I had already



Comments on the idea from myself, my peers and members in the community.

  • While the book was well received there needed to be something else to invite people to the gardens? 

  • Some kind of interaction when people arrived

  • This idea also gives the opportunity for future 'series' around different stories and topics ongoing in the village.



Connecting to people in 'power'


I tri



Reacting to the place


I tri

Goal 1:


This experience can attract a wide range of visitors, kids for the storytelling but also an older crowd with the aesthetic and humour.


Address these experiences in the design, to make a relevant service for all possible visitors.


Goal 2:


Visitors are more indirectly connected to knowledge about plants through the characters' stories. It is presented in a more digestible way than hard plant facts.


Connect visitors to the plant knowledge that lives within the village.


Goal 3: 


By receiving their invitation to the garden, visitors don't need signs or other disruptive landmarks to find the location and the map shows them where to go.

Create an experience where visitors can learn about their surroundings in a clear and simple way. 

bottom of page