Author Archives: Michiel Pouderoijen

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From November 5 up to and including November 19, 2015 the Institute of Poldering shows in BK-expo. At the opening event a booklet with the results of the course has been presented. The booklet can also be downloaded as pdf from TU Delft Repository. An impression of the ‘AR0048 – Landscape architecture ON site’ projects can be found on the dedicated website IOPM.

The opening event November 5:



An impression of the exhibition:




All photos made by Boya Zhang.


‘Institute of Poldering – Landscape under construction’ is a project produced by students of the Faculty of Architecture for the Expedition program of Oerol 2015, Terschelling.1

The chair of Landscape Architecture of the Faculty of Architecture and Oerol have worked together for a couple of years already on the theme ‘Sense of Place’ of Oerol . This year the theme was enriched by a cooperation with Bird Life Netherlands in the project ‘Polderpracht Terschelling’.Other important themes are coastal dynamics and climate change. But first of all it is a study project in which 15 students of different disciplines learn about the Dutch landscape and landscape design from a scientific background.


Due to the nature of the project, the group also learns how to cooperate, plan, realise and present a design project for 5000 visitors, and about fields related to an artistic project like visual arts and theatre. Teamwork and individual work are used together to generate a range of ideas. In the 2nd half of the project the emphasis is on teamwork and making choices that everyone can agree with.

For Birds-I-View three main themes have been put forward: meadow birds, the Terschelling Polder and climate change. To highlight all aspects as balanced as possible, we followed two tracks: the Oerol project, an artistic, interactive installation that communicates an idea or vision on meadow bird related issues, as well as examining the landscape of the Terschellinger Polder and create a design for it. Both tracks run parallel and influence and enrich each other.


Within the course, the role of individual students has been re-defined continuously in order to have the maximum of knowledge and skills of individual group members available for the team. This group work represents the situation where the designer operates in, a multidisciplinary team trying to agree on goals and how to achieve them. Learning to discuss ideas in a constructive spirit is essential in this process; looking for similarities rather than differences, possibilities instead of limitations.

The result is a project that evaluates the human impact on nature, but also interdependencies between humans and nature. We see the landscape of the island as a large construction site, where man in the course of centuries has modified nature through various interventions, creating a constructed landscape, with positive and negative consequences. Meadow birds are attracted to the agricultural grassland habitat in the polder made by man , and now that they are there, we have a responsibility for them. Do we continue with profit maximization at the expense of meadow birds, or do we protect them at the expense of our profit? A question regarding the future is linked to this; do we prevent the polder from getting lost for agriculture by sea level rise and salinization, also causing grassland birds to disappear? And in what way?


With these ingredients the group conceived a dynamic structure, which deformed and moved under the influence of choices visitors made and where they during participation in the transformation process gained insight into their choices and the consequences for their environment.

Oerol took place from June 12-22 2015. More images and videos can be watched at the IOPM website


The chair of Landscape Architecture of the TU Delft cordially invites you for the opening of the exhibition ‘Institute of Poldering’ on Thursday, November 5, 2015, where we will look back at the project and forward to the next move.

We will also proudly present a booklet describing the project, from the first steps on Terschelling to gathering information, discussion, generating design ideas, realisation and running the project.


The exhibiton takes place in BK expo, the exhibition space of the Faculty of Architecture in the east wing.

17.00 BK expo open

17:30 Speech and opening

18.00 Drinks

Please RSVP with number of attendees to: Margo van der Helm | | telephone +31 15 27 81298

Address: Faculty of Architecture TU Delft | Julianalaan 134 | 2628 BL Delft

The exhibition can be visited from November 5 – 19, 2015 during regular business hours.

  1. This text has been published before in Bnieuws 09 2014 2015,

iopm_logoThe Institute of Place Making finds out and makes visible what the notion of place is about and how it evolves. It will do this by mapping, categorising and analysing feedback of visitors and inhabitants on their experience with  Terschellings’ landscape and places. The results will be returned through a website with a map of the island indicating the values visitors and inhabitants endow to a variety of places they know on the island.  An interactive classification and exhibition of the results will take place at the Institutes’  laboratory during Oerol at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’.


People will be all around the island during the festival. Therefore the staff of the Institute will go out of the office to meet them in the field, and hand out test tubes with the request to put the ‘essence of Terschelling’ in the test tube and return it to the Institute. The test tube is used as a symbol  and medium to activate thinking about place. A small label is attached to the test tube, with instructions and space to fill in personal information: age, gender and place of residence, a space to fill in data about the place: a small map to mark the location, what the weather was like and the time of the day, and a small space to note the experience in a few keywords, or draw something. This information will help us to categorize the places. In addition to this, conversations with visitors on their place will be collected as audio and video fragments. The visitors may keep the test tube a couple of days with them to find and experience their place before returning it to us.


One can visit the Institute at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’ to have the results, test tube and completed label, processed. Here, the visitor is brought into a pseudo-scientific world of staff in white lab coats who receive the visitor and extract the data with them in a couple of steps: making a photograph of the test tube, measuring and weighing the contents, pinning the place as accurate as possible on a large wall map, asking some additional questions to categorize the data like wet or dry, hot or cold, dead or alive, and then bringing the data form the label into a digital interactive map on the website.

The visitor is then asked to go into the forest and put their test tube in one of the white cabinets in the ‘open air laboratory’. These cabinets have poetic names like  ‘the cabinet of overwhelming nature’, ‘the cabinet of immeasurable colours’ or ‘the cabinet of eternal elements’. In every cabinet, a more detailed classification is made within the theme of it. After some days a collection of experiences builds up in the cabinets in the form of a cabinet of curiosities that other visitors can watch and study. The cabinets will be installed in the forest in accordance with the shape of the old dunes’ topography the raster of trees and the patterns on the forest floor, forming a group of ‘objets trouvés’.


The results of the project will be heavily coloured by the fact that there is a festival taking place, but the principle could be repeated on a different moment or at a different location. It certainly will give us an overview of places and landscapes that people on Terschelling appreciate most. For a more elaborate investigation the fairly subjective data of the visitors will be supplemented with more objective characteristics derived from GIS-data like landscape type, field of view, percentages green, open sky, water, weather, etc. A comparison could then be made between perception of a person and what the landscape actually looks like. Each day of Oerol the results will be analysed and some striking outcome will be the motive for a daily manifestation in the afternoon, elaborating on that specific result.

general strategyBut the investigation could also be placed in a broader context .The next step could comprise of making the results operable for landscape architectonic design. The landscape in the Netherlands is changing rapidly, and will continue to change even more in the future. The ‘old’ is replaced for the ‘new’, usually to the chagrin of those familiar with these places. How can we use their views to guide transition in a more sensible way? The Institute of Place Making also wants to find an answer to that question.

Curious what the project looks like? Visit us at Oerol, June 14 – 23, 2013, at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’

http://www. (under construction)

Michiel Pouderoijen and Denise Piccinini, assignment coordinators and tutors of Landscape Architecture ON site, being part of Oerol 2013 (Elective MSc2 – Chair Landscape Architecture at the TU Delft) Students: Kaegh Allen, Ilse van den Berg, Erik van der Gaag, Charlotte Grace, Bart de Hartog, Rogier Hendriks, Doris van Hooijdonk, Marleen Klompenhouwer, Emiel Meijerink, Eva Nicolai, Pépé Niemeijer, Sarah Roberts

The Dutch have a rich tradition in creating polders, nowadays approximately 50% of the country consists of polder land. But the difficult and challenging task of land reclamation would never have been possible without a strong sense of solidarity and an urge for cooperation. That is the explanation most often heard for the historical origin of the consensus model in Dutch politics. This attitude got a new meaning in the eighties and nineties of the last century with the introduction of the ‘poldermodel’ in the relationship between employers, unions and government. Negotiations would have a better success rate if the parties seek a win-win situation instead of highlighting the contradictions. Since that time the verb “polderen” has been used for various forms of cooperation that aim to achieve compromise and consensus. But what is their connection?

The political landscape has changed dramatically since the beginning of the 21st century, polarization was socially acceptable again, with major implications for the relationship between politics and society. Have we forgotten how to ‘polder’ since the last reclamation (in 1968)? One could possibly speak of the ‘ontpoldering’ of politics.

In 2005, the Chair of Landscape Architecture started a study on the spatial characteristics of the Dutch polder landscape for the 2nd International Architecture Biennial Rotterdam. By “naming the special characteristics and the reduction to a compositional model “(1) we could make ‘polder modellen’, scale models of 14 polders that showed the structure and components that the polder is made of. The exhibition resulted, after another 5 years of work, in ‘The Polder Atlas of the Netherlands’ (2) a massive design atlas for the polder landscape, which in turn was the start of several consecutive research projects.

Polder model of the Noordoostpolder for the exhibition ‘Polders – the scene of land and water’ in 2005 (4)

With the debate around the Hertogin Hedwigepolder the series of polder studies by the Chair of Landscape Architecture gets a present-day significance. The Hertogin Hedwigepolder is a relatively young (1907) and small (306 ha) agricultural polder at the border between Belgium and the Netherlands that has been proposed to be ‘ontpolderd’ (de-embanked) as compensation for the loss of natural values due to the dredging of the seaway in the Westerschelde. Belgium and the Netherlands signed several agreements on the accessibility of the port of Antwerp (3). To make things more complex, the Westerschelde is also a designated Natura 2000 area since 2009, with strict requirements for the maintenance of natural habitats. The dikes would be removed, and the polder would become a saline marsh. The proposal was met with a stubborn ‘no, we will not give up agricultural land’ by the local population, although there are very little alternative options (see for example the website ‘Red onze polders‘). The last compromise is a combination of cutting bits and pieces of several polders along the Westerschelde and improving natural values of mudflats.

Topographical map of the Hertogin Hedwigepolder, just after completion in 1907 (5)

Presently we have come to realize that the way we have engineered the delta is not sustainable indefinitely. Among others, climate change, development of cities and industry and nature, all demand a part of the scarce space. In many areas there are problems to be resolved with water quality and quantity. To accommodate these changes, knowledge of the existing polder landscape and the development of adaptation models is crucial. We can do better than just removing dikes, by a more careful transformation a beautiful new landscape could be created. To achieve this, connections between spatial and political issues should become apparent again. We are happy to be part of this process by developing both “polder-” and “ontpoldermodellen” and develop design tools as medium for negotiations. Perhaps even politicians can learn from us.


Current polder related research:

Digitale polderatlas (pilot)

Bobbink, I. Water in Zicht (Amsterdam 2012)


(1) Van den Heuvel, B., Reh, W. en Steenbergen, C.M. Poldermodellen. Het Hollandse landschap als bouwdoos (Delft, 2005)

(2) Steenbergen, C.M., Reh, W., Nijhuis, S., Pouderoijen, M.T. The Polder Atlas of the netherlands. Pantheon Of The Low Lands (Bussum 2009)

(3) Scheldeverdragen, among others: Verdrag tussen het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden en het Vlaams Gewest betreffende de uitvoering van de ontwikkelingsschets 2010 Schelde-estuarium, Middelburg, 21 december 2005, Tractatenblad 2005, nr. 310

(4) Photo by Hans Krüse

(5) Chromo-topographische kaart van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, sheet 703, partly revised in 1908. Map room TU Delft