Plan for a peri-urban farmstead - from monoculture to permaculture
Mariënburg is a former sugarcane plantation with factory and kampong, located in the Commewijne district of Suriname. After the closure of the factory in 1986, the site is slowly dilapidating. Mariënburg is now subordinated: there is no drinking water, poor water management, road and building infrastructures are not well maintained... Some of the contemporary inhabitants are living under poor conditions in the shacks of former workers' wooden homes; others are renovating or renewing the existing structures.
Population growth and uncontrolled informal renovations and constructions cause a densification of the neighbourhood, which makes qualitative open space in Mariënburg rare. Open space is important for residents, not only for cultural reasons but also for recreation, water buffering and small-scale agriculture.
Tourism and agriculture could help tackle the growing social disintegration and unemployment in Mariënburg. It is important to remember that it is not only doom and gloom in Mariënburg, on the contrary: the site has a lot to offer; the material heritage of the old plantation (the buildings and plantation structure) and the immaterial heritage (the culture of its inhabitants) offer possibilities.
The housing shortage implies the provision of new dwellings. The existing kampong is crammed and the continuous extensions pressurize the rare open spaces. The unemployment on the other hand, requires the integration of productive landscapes, which are organized between the new dwellings. This intertwining is necessary: firstly because the residents must be able to exercise social control on the crops or animals, secondly because Javanese people are used to do small-scale agriculture on their own property, in the so-called home garden or pekarangan.
An unused old plantation site was chosen as design site. The site's choice fits seamlessly with the Plan4Cure idea: deploying heritage as a motor for sustainable development. The search for a suitable master plan was made in three repetitive steps: drawing, analyzing and adjusting. The final master plan intertwines living and working in a small scale, provides retention basins for water collection and leaves room for short-term processing and public space to relax.
Due to the housing and production in the plantation district, two major problems in Mariënburg are addressed: housing shortages and employment. By preserving the structure of the plantation, the plantation is literally shown, which provides inhabitants and visitors a modern image of a plantation.