Trenches for Peace

Oirschot, Netherlands

War and peace on the Oirschot Heath

The Dutch armed forces are committed to peace. Almost nowhere this paradox can be witnessed clearer than on the Oirschotse Heide, where spectacular military exercises take place above publicly accessible moors. The Trenches of Peace by Studio Marco Vermeulen emphasizes this paradox by offering a view of the military spectacle from a trench in the shape of a peace sign.

The peace sign is located in the vicinity of the Green Corridor, but is hidden from view by bushes, and is also separated by a moorland. Visitors reach the trench through the forest and the heath. The trench is in a place that offers a view of the Oirschotse Heide and the spectacular military exercises that take place there.
The contrast between war and peace is further deepened by having the trenches constructed by the army. The soldiers dig narrow trenches into which concrete is poured. These concrete elements form the walls of the trench, and are given a rough, earthy texture by the manual construction of the trenches. Part of the excavated soil material is added to the concrete as aggregate material, giving it the same color as the soil on site. The remaining soil between the walls is excavated. The space created forms the trench: a military object with a public and recreational function.

shelter against the spectacle of violence in the service of peace

From the trenches the environment can be experienced from different depths. The shallowest part is connected to the entrance path and provides access to the trench. From there the trench gradually becomes deeper. For parts near the entrance, the wall of the trench can be used as seating. Lower parts offer the perspective of soldiers, where the viewing height is just above ground level. In the lowest part of the trench, the visitor finds itself completely below ground level. The trench is tight and narrow. The bottom is palpable, and only a narrow strip of sky is visible above the visitors.
The peace sign is part of a series of art objects along the “Groene Corridor”, a scenic route that runs over the Eindhovense Dijk from Oirschot to Eindhoven. It is located in the vicinity of the road, but is hidden from view by bushes and, in addition, separated by a moorland. Visitors reach the trench through the forest and the heath, where the military spectacle can be experienced from an isolated place in nature.

ir. Marco Vermeulen, ir. Bram Willemse, Msc. M.Arch. Bertus van Woerden, Alberto Carbonell

Construction preparation

Gemeente Oirschot

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