The Netherlands has a long history when it comes to water safety. Yet, even for the Dutch, the Reevediep is a unique project. The creation of this new delta landscape marks the successful completion of the national Room for the River Program. To enable the IJssel to discharge a larger volume of water, a new river branch (bypass) has been created south of Kampen.

With about 570 ha in size, the high-water channel is the largest intervention of the 39 Room for the River measures across the Netherlands. It is also a project with a real impact on the geography of the Netherlands: it comprises 350 ha of delta nature, 20 km of new dikes, 2 locks, a bridge and an inlet work. The design’s strength is inextricably linked to spatial quality. It contributes to the experience of the landscape and creates added value for future generations. The project represents a new approach to flood protection: instead of higher dikes, the area around the river is developed to give more room to the water. South of Kampen the results of this approach are visible: existing agricultural land has been transformed into an attractive natural and recreational area.


When a major intervention is carried out in an existing landscape, designers play a crucial role. The project’s double objective –to realize a both safe and beautiful river landscape– provided the starting point. Careful thought was given to the integration of the new infrastructure in the landscape. A technical solution such as a drainage channel, which functions autonomously from the landscape, was abandoned in the planning phase. To stay true to the morphology of the IJsseldelta landscape, the bypass was designed as a large creek: connected by a narrow stream to the IJssel and by a permanent, open connection to the former Zuider Sea.


Spatial quality as a method
Room for the River IJsseldelta is a collaboration between government, constructors, engineers, architects and ecologists. H+N+S Landscape Architects and NEXT architects formed the Spatial Quality Team and were closely involved in the realization within the IsalaDelta consortium, which included Boskalis and Van Hattum en Blankevoort. Earlier they developed the design brief in commission of Rijkswaterstaat and the Province of Overijssel. Close collaboration of all parties resulted in this high-quality plan.

Carefully integrated dikes

The northern dike is distinguished with an articulated profile which includes a cycling path, offering an extensive view over the Reevediep itself and the wide cultural landscape. In contrast, the southern dike has a low-lying cycling path close to nature. All bends and connections, entrances and exits are designed with the utmost precision.
Civil works that are worth seeing and visiting
By focusing on the identity of both landscape and architecture, a special series of civil works have been created. With a coherent signature they ensure integrity and unity within the Reevediep. The plain and simple design is in accordance of its position within the landscape but is also very cost-effective and saves in use of materials. Without imposing themselves on the landscape, the civil works become a convincing part of it. Their function and role within the hydrological system are directly readable.
The inlet system in the IJssel Dike regulates the inflow. The reference design was based on an adjustable inlet system with sliders and a concrete floor. Within the IsalaDelta consortium and in coordination with the client, this design has been optimized to a static inlet with forebay. This low-tech solution turned out to be more cost-efficient (in both realization and maintenance) and, especially, a gain for the spatial quality in relation to the landscape. The Reevediep is an important new link in the recreational network around Kampen. The recreational lock, designed as an attraction, creates an accent on the IJssel Dike where waterways, cycling routes and walking routes come together. The machinery is located in two sculptural brick buildings. When water levels rise, the silhouette changes, making the water dynamics visible. Nieuwendijk Bridge spans the entire flood room from dike to dike. Its pillars stand as elegant legs in the delta landscape. Designed as a 360 meters-long balcony, the bridge offers a panoramic view.
Making delta nature accessible and attractive

The Netherlands has gained a unique new piece of land. The lower parts contain new reed swamps, while the higher parts are accessible for grazing. Natural processes have enough space to enrich and diversify the delta landscape. It is expected that every 5 years the water from the IJssel will flow through the inlet. Furthermore, interventions along the banks encourage the growth threatened bird species such as the bittern.
With the completion of the Reevediep we rethought and reshaped our relationship with the water on different levels.

Entrant office name: NEXT architects
Other design firms involved in the design: H+N+S / Trafique
Role of H+N+S in the project: Landscape Architect
Role of NEXT architects: Design of the civil works (a series of bridges and locks)
Project location (State or Country): The Netherlands
Design year: 2004 -2018
Year Built: 2014 – 2019


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