Bas van Haastrecht, owner of Palènpa Park
Bas, what is your connection with Haarlemmermeer?
I grew up in Haarlemmermeer myself. When I was 7 months young, my parents relocated from Amsterdam to Hoofddorp. I have been living in Hoofddorp for over 50 years now. So I have a lot of connection with the area.
I am the owner of the Palènpa hut building company. Originally, we started Palènpa Park with just the two of us. Addy came up with the idea and I set up the company with him. The company is currently run by me instead of Addy, who is no longer involved.
In my childhood, I roamed and played endlessly in the polder. I used to build hay huts on different farms. That is where my passion for building huts comes from. I used to do this a lot in my youth. During my sailing trips with my parents through the Netherlands, we always went into the woods upon arrival. We built huts with branches and old wood wherever we found useful materials.
What’s there to do at Palènpa Park?
We have special building plots here. These are private pieces of lawn with a kit on them. The name Palènpa comes from poles and panels. A kit contains panels and posts for walls, roofs, and bridges. There are also long and short poles. With this, you can build huts and towers. Using large bolts and nuts, you connect them. You don't have to use a saw and hammer. Your own hands are the only tool you need!
That way, anyone can build something quickly. The concept is very accessible. Within an hour and a half, you have built three huts and a tower from a kit. You can also come and celebrate a children's party here. It is an ideal way for the children to enjoy being outside. The gameplay starts automatically, you don't have to do anything to actively guide it.
An ideal way for the children to enjoy being outside: the game develops automatically, and you don't have to do anything for that.
How old do you have to be to build huts in Palènpa Park?
The age range is from 4 to 14 years. A growing number of adults are also visiting, for example as part of a team-building activity. But the huts are mainly built for and by children. Construction of the huts is always supervised by adults, such as parents or teachers. With younger children you often have to help a little more and lift the heavier parts.
At the end of the activity, you deconstruct the hut yourself. Dismantling is also part of the concept. Putting everything together yourself is the nice thing about the building, and you can be proud of the result.
In what way is Palènpa Park involved with sustainability?
The material with which the huts are built can all be reused. By using nuts and bolts you can take everything apart and use it again for the next hut. It is therefore a very sustainable concept.
We work with impregnated pinewood. This is the same type of wood used for garden fences. Because it is processed, it can last for a long time and the wood is well protected against weather influences. The surface of the wood is planed so it is quite smooth. As a result, children hardly run the risk of getting splinters in their fingers while building the huts. The material is very safe and easy to work with.
The archetype of building huts, with old wood and loose wild branches, is also cool. But in practice, this happens less and less often, especially if you live in the city. However, children still have a natural tendency to build huts. As a child, you really start making your own world that way. At Palènpa Park we encourage children to do this again.
How did you find the location of Palènpa Park?
Our location came about by accident. In 2020, we were just getting ready to start, but our market fell. At the time, we were planning to sell our hut-building kits to campsites and outdoor parks. But due to the corona pandemic, these locations had to close.
Because of this, we started looking for a place where people could build our huts independently. With an appropriate one and a half meters distance, so completely corona-proof, and by making use of a clear manual and instruction video.
We started talking with Dirk Molenaar of the estate at Landgoed Kleine Vennep. He was open to our idea. The estate was still under construction back then, so it fit well with his plans. The addition of Palènpa Park allows people to discover this beautiful estate instantly.
The material with which the huts are built can all be reused, which makes Palènpa Park a very sustainable concept.
What are the future plans for Palènpa Park, do you have fun things planned?
We have a new addition to the park for this year. Building huts can now also be combined with archery tag (shooting with bow and arrow), or with special “gel blasters”. This is a kind of paintball but without paint. Instead, it contains small biodegradable balls of water that you use to shoot your opponents.
This year you can build huts and set up your own arena with stations, after which you can compete with each other. This makes building huts even more adventurous.
What makes your company unique in Haarlemmermeer?
The concept of Palènpa Park does not exist anywhere else. It is truly a unique product. It's also what visitors tell us about their experiences building huts. It's a simple concept, with posts, panels, bolts and nuts, but you can still build an interesting structure with it. It is challenging and accessible at the same time.
As a resident and entrepreneur of Haarlemmermeer, what are you most proud of?
I am proud that our municipality has the necessary social and green sustainable initiatives. I also show this – in addition to Palènpa Park – on the HeelHaarlemmermeer platform. In this way, we make Haarlemmermeer even more beautiful together. As an entrepreneur and as a resident, I am deeply involved in the community.
What I also like is that I notice that many action-takers live and work in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. Things really get done here. People who do not wait endlessly, but simply take action.
I am also proud of our location at Landgoed Kleine Vennep. Many people do not know this place yet, because five years ago this was still agricultural land. Dirk is increasingly working to make the estate more beautiful step by step and to attract people here.
I invite everyone to come here for a day and discover this special estate. And for anyone who likes to build huts, Palènpa Park is the place to be!