New welcome sign to Kiel-Windeweer

Updated: Mar 30

In 2006, Kiel-Windeweer was officially recognized by the Dutch- government as a "Protected monumental village". The 'Association of Local Interests' (VPBK) then asked me to make a design for a so-called 'welcome- sign' based on the village flag; which were placed at the bottom of the village- signs at the access roads to the village. There, these under plates hung in their familiar place under the regular village- signs for about fourteen years and welcomed the inhabitants, visitors and passers-by every day to the protected village of Kiel-Windeweer.


Due to the influences of "wind and weather" the signs were subject to wear and tear, and over the years started to show damage here and there. Every now and then the municipality has replaced damaged plates. Out of love for the village and a passion for graphic design it seemed interesting to me to try to come up with a new and stronger design.

The Message

The village name sign and the accompanying bottom sign are primarily aimed at the road traffic that passes the signs. In order to convey certain messages via a road sign, shapes, colors, short texts and pictograms are generally used. Rapidly passing motorized traffic in particular must be able to understand the message (s) on the board at a glance:

The messages on the top plate; the general (blue) place name sign of Kiel-Windeweer; are firstly; "Here you enter the built-up area of Kiel-Windeweer" and secondly; "This is a place in the municipality of Midden Groningen".

The underplate communicates the following: First; "You're Welcome Here!" Second; "This is a Protected Village". And third; Are the colors of the Kielster flag placed on the bottom plate. The design for the flag was still relatively new in 2006 and the prominent image of the flag on the plate has probably contributed to a significant extent to its recognisability among the inhabitants. The random passer-by who, however, does not know that this color combination is about the village flag, only sees a green, yellow, blue colored rectangle as they pass by.

History of


Commissioned by the city of Groningen, the excavation of the so-called so-called 'Hoofddiep van Windeweer' was started in 1647. ', which created the settlements that now form Kiel-Windeweer. The canal was intended to transport peat by ship from the Peat Colonies to the city. Today, Kiel-Windeweer is a very well-preserved example of a typical Veenkolonial ribbon village, in which the historical development that took place over the centuries is still clearly visible. This makes Kiel-Windeweer and its neighboring villages even unique in the world. This cultural-historical background is the reason why Kiel-Windeweer was given protected status by the government in 2006.

The Kieldiep

Nowadays the canal is officially called Kielsterdiep, but 'Kieldiep' or Gronings: 'Kieldaip' in the vernacular. Kiel-Windeweer is located in a rural area amidst extensive meadows and agricultural land. The "Kieldiep" is still the most important and defining element of the village. When I came to live in Kiel-Windeweer as a child, my teammates at the football club soon said; "You are only a real Kielster if you have also been in Kieldiep." This channel is what connects the entire village. The Kieldiep connects the Kielsters with each other, and the Kieldiep literally connects the Kiel-Windeweer community with the rest of the world. This was the case in the past, it still applies today, and as long as the channels are not muted, it will remain so in the future. Without the Kieldiep; no Kiel-Windeweer. That is why the Kieldiep is a good starting point for designing new imagery that can symbolize the village.

The Dutch Barge

The Dutch barge was created for the transportation of excavated peat. The barge is a type of sailing ship that originated in the seventeenth century in the Groninger Veenkoloniën (just like Kiel-Windeweer), and has been the standard for many centuries, well into the seventies of the twentieth century in large parts of northwestern Europe's inland and coastal waters.

Today there are still hundreds of examples of this almost indestructible type of sailing ship that are still commercially sailing. Only the cargo has changed. No more peat on board; but passengers.

Kiel-Windeweer also had shipyards where barges were regularly launched. The last Kielster shipyard eventually moved to Sappemeer, and can now still be visited as a museum shipyard. As a symbol for the cultural-historical background of the Peat Colonies to which Kiel-Windeweer owes its protected status; the Dutch barge has been chosen as its logo.

The Village- Symbol

I have now been working for a number of years on the restoration of an original Dutch barge that was built on the same water (1908). Because of this I had an appropriate muse / model available for a historically accurate illustration of a real Dutch barge from the Veenkoloniën. On the shield the tjalk is depicted sailing through the Kieldiep. The Dutch flag on the back of the ship, the Kielster flag in the mast, and the pennant in the colors of the city of Groningen in the top; it can be clearly seen that she is sailing (in sailing terms) ahead of the wind. At the back, the skipper is at the helm who waves to us. The Kieldiep is shown in the same colors as the colors of the village flag, and at the bottom of the shield is the year 1647; The year in which the construction of the Kieldiep was started.

The shield

The frame in which the tjalk is depicted is inspired by the traditional coats of arms that are still worn in many places and regions. For this I studied heraldry.

In a time before gunpowder was invented, battles were often fought with the sword. The armor and shield were standard equipment of every warrior, soldier or knight for thousands of years, and the specific colors and symbols depicted on the shield made it possible to tell who belonged to whom. In fact, that is exactly the same reason why sports teams nowadays wear their clothing in the common club colors with corresponding emblems during matches. Later the symbols worn on the shields were also depicted on the helmets and cloaks of the soldiers, and they were increasingly elegantly designed, and also used as an identification mark on, for example, the facades of buildings or for the sealing of official documents.

Nowadays new flags and coats of arms are still being designed in the Netherlands for new municipalities, for example. As a rule, everyone - and therefore also every place - is completely free to design and use their own coat of arms at any time.

Protected status

Thanks to its protected status, the face of Kiel-Windeweer falls under the monument law and is therefore national cultural heritage. The so-called "monument shield" was created during wartime and is used internationally as a general symbol for landscapes and objects that fall under the monument law. When this shield is placed somewhere, it can be concluded at a glance that the place or object in question has a protected status.

De village flag

The Kielster flag has not completely disappeared from the board, but in addition to the mast of the tjalk, it is also placed smaller on the other side of the board, right next to the Groningen province flag; so that it is also clearer to non-Kielsters that the green, yellow and blue color combination represent a flag, and that, moreover, one is here on the Groningen side of the very nearby provincial border.

"Welcome to the protected townscape"

Upon entering, the most important thing is that we as (born and / or imported) Kielsters first and foremost give a warm welcome to ourselves, each other, our loved ones, visitors and passers-by. That is why the word "WELCOME!" Is large, with an exclamation mark, in a clear letter and the most central part of the composition. Followed by 'In the protected townshape'.


Although I am no longer a resident of Kiel-Windeweer because of study and work, I still like to visit the village where I grew up to a large extent, and where my parents still live today. When the flag of the village hangs out during village festivals, or when I enter 'Kiel' and see the place name sign with the welcome sign underneath, I feel quite proud that the designs, some of which I came up with when I was only sixteen years old, are still are used. I made them out of a passion for graphic art, and out of interest in the history and culture of the place and its surroundings. All designs have been offered free of charge and without obligation to the VPBK, and I hope to contribute something positive and timeless to the public space of the village, in which an important part of my life still takes place today. I would like to thank the VPBK and all Kielsters for the friendly enthusiasm with which the designs have been received and put into use over the years. Hopefully the new signs will again contribute something to appreciation for this beautiful part of Groningen and its history for a long time, and continue to provide a welcome feeling to everyone who enters Kiel.


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