In 2010, rivers throughout The Netherlands were struggling to carry vast amounts of water into the nearby sea. In response to this pressing issue, the government created a national flood prevention program called the ‘Room for the River Project’. The project made room for the Rhine, Lek, Maas and Waal Rivers through a process called depoldering. Depoldering, the process of moving a dyke along a river outwards so that the river has room to flood during periods of high water, has successfully allowed for water to quickly discharge from the rivers into the sea and ensured the safety of more than four million people. The Noordwaard Project, the largest of 39 sub-projects of the ‘Room for the River Project’, was a massive undertaking. The project involved more than four million cubic meters of earthworks; 50 structures were demolished and 30 kilometers of quays and dykes, 45 kilometers of creeks, 29 talluds, 33 bridges, 60 hydraulic structures and 12 pumping-stations were created. In collaboration with the competition winning implementation team (Boskalis, Martens en van Oord, van Hattem en Blankevoort, Gebr. van Kessel), West 8 (as architects) and IPV Delft designed 33 bridges (24 Creek Bridges, 6 Dike Bridges and 3 Steurgat Bridge) and 12 pumping-stations for the Noordwaard polder.
An integral part of the Noordwaard project, the bridges facilitate the public access to the depoldered area, allowing the community to connect with new landscape and providing new opportunities for recreation within the long-term sustainable water management strategy. The design team spent many hours conducting environmental and social research on the unique site to create a solution to simply and beautifully connect the community with the land. Each bridge adorns a seemingly unassuming appearance and a gentle curvature to elevate above the horizon and is designed to keep with the understated beauty of the Dutch pastoral landscape. Sleek and sober detailing, special bronze finishes and extended decorative bird sticks give the bridges their unique character.
The creek bridges, designed with very high openings, are able to withstand large volumes of water at high tide and allow for floating debris to easily run under them at a high tide.
The dike bridges are located at the inlets and outlets of the area. These bridges are designed with robust foundations to withstand the strong currents and forces of a flooding event. The stepped form of their sturdy concrete pillars allow for water levels and direction of water flow to be easily measured.
The Steurgat Bridges mark the entrance to Noordwaard. The walls, constructed primarily from reclaimed bricks from the fifty structures demolished on the site, welcome boaters with the word ‘Noordwaard’. The bridges features elegant bronze coated railings and extra wide under passages to comfortably accommodate boaters.
Water management is essential for Noordwaard, the 12 pumping stations are the most tangible elements in the landscape and have several different functions (from agricultural to dike related). The pumping stations, also constructed primarily from recycled bricks, offer stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the vast new landscape.
Project location: Noordwaard, The Netherlands
Design year: 2011
Year Built: 2011-2016
Photos: Jeroen Musch
• Initiator: Rijkswaterstaat, Project Bureau Ontpoldering Noordwaard
• Planning Study: Project Bureau Ontpoldering Noordwaard
• Realization: Rijkswaterstaat, Project Bureau Ontpoldering Noordwaard
• Execution: Combination Noordwaard (Boskalis bv, Martens en Van Oort, Van Hattum en Blankevoort, Gebr. Van Kessel bv.) Architects involved are Ipv Delft and West 8