Tag Archives: polder

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,

In February 2013, MSc students of Landscape Architecture were taken to the Nieuwland Museum in Leystad for a three day workshop, led by an artist. Cora Jongsma, who has worked extensively with felt, introduced students to the fascinating similarities between two seemingly incongruent occurrences: the creation of felt from wool and the creation of polders.

Exhibition by Cora Jonsma in Nieuwland Erfgoedcentrum, LelystadExhibition by Cora Jongsma in Nieuwland Erfgoedcentrum, Lelystad

“Essentially, polders are created when water is pumped out of land. Similarly, to create felt, wet wool is flattened with a rolling pin. The constant rolling shrinks the fabric to create a smooth surface,” explains Inge Bobbink, coordinator of education at the Chair of Landscape Architecture. “Going through the process of making this fabric themselves gave students an insight into the process of how polders were created and how the land subsided due to the fact of drainage,” she adds.

During the course of the workshop students were first taught how to make felt and then about mixing colours, creating layers and texturing. On the final day they were asked to recreate a part of ‘their’ polder using the felt and colours made by them. Each student works parallel to the workshop on a design for ‘a recrational waterlandscape’ in a polder.

WoolSketching landscape structureTesting felt landscapeThe final effect of the workshop is definitely remarkable. As Bobbink walks us through the exhibition, the scraps of fabric begin to make sense. One is a landscape surrounded by crisscrossing water bodies; the fabric has been dyed in different hues of blue to create a sense of depth. Another is a greener landscape – a park on a polder. One looks like a prize-winning landscape garden.

The tableOverall, it is equal parts scientific and aesthetic. “The making of felt is for me the same as cultivating the landscape… I keep this natural process in mind with my Experimental Polders of Felt, with the only difference that felt softens instead of hardens… I try, as an alchemist, to transform the area into gold, and to say the least, in felt,” says Jongsma, in an introduction to the workshop.

Bobbink says that since the workshop she has noticed a marked improvement in how the students engage with the course. That’s not all. “Playing with designs, using technical know-how with imagination is something that will be handy to them in the long run as landscape artists,” she adds.

Interview by Damini Purkayastha from DELTA

Proeftuinen van Vilt on Cora Jongsma’s website

Smallest polder - plan overview

Polder Garden – bird’s eye view Campus Delft

Last year Michael van der Meer, the director of the Science Centre and Rolf Hut from the Faculty of Civil Engineering asked us to design the ‘smallest polder of the Netherlands’ at the Campus of TU Delft. We invited 5 students (Lowin van der Burg, Marij Hoogland, Linda Nijhof, Emma Ottevanger and Cem Steenhorst) from the faculty of Architecture, who invested quite some time next to their regular study program, to make a design. Denise Piccinini and myself from the department of Landscape Architecture coached them.

The project should demonstrate, especially to foreign guests and children, who visit the Science Centre, a typical piece of the man-made Dutch landscape.

Furthermore the polder should explain the principles of water management of the lowlands. Rain drops fall into the polder, are collected in the ditches, flow to the main canal and are discharged via the screw pump onto the ring canal that surrounds the polder.

Since the polder is very small and situated next to the Science Centre, neighboring a future international housing block we decided to design the polder as being garden. The image of the design should convince decision makers who are involved in planning process of TU Delft campus, that this Polder Garden can become an educational and spatial interesting hotspot. And moreover the first polder we, the Dutch, build in the Netherlands after having finished South Flevoland in 1968!

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

Wij zijn uitgenodigd voor een huwelijksfeest in de Kleine Rug, een schiereiland naast een groot drinkwater-spaarbekken aan de noordoost rand van Dordrecht. Het is januari – 8 graden Celsius warm en het regent. Wij gaan met de fiets en volgen zo ver dat mogelijk is het water in de Delta.

Zelf wonen wij wel op een heel bijzondere plek, namelijk aan een van de weinige tussenboezem-gebieden.

Sloot tussenboezemVanuit de tuin kunnen wij met de kano, onder lage bruggen doorhengelend naar de Voor- of Achterplas (Rotterdam Noord) varen. Op deze plassen en de aangesloten sloten daaromheen, kunnen lager gelegen polders hun overtollig regenwater lozen. Vanuit de plas wordt het water bij een teveel via een klein onooglijk gemaaltje op de Rotte geloosd.

Tussenboezem plas Met de fiets vertrekken wij via de Straatweg, een spannende weg die tussen de twee plassen in ligt. Jammer genoeg is de straatgevel zo dichtgezet met bebouwing en hekwerken dat het daarachterliggende water nauwelijks zichtbaar is. Afbuigend naar de Rotte rijden wij de stad in.


Opeens is de oude veenrivier die de stad zijn naam gegeven heeft verdwenen. Hier en daar duikt een singel op, maar een ruimtelijke koppeling met de loop van de Rotte is niet zo een twee drie te maken. Vanaf het boezemgemaal Schilthuis (Oostplein) voert een gigantische persleiding, de regen die onder anderen op ons huis en tuin gevallen is, naar de Nieuwe Maas af. Vanuit dit punt stroomt het regenwater via de Nieuwe Waterweg naar zee.

Gezien al dat buitendijkse gebied hier aan de rivier van Rotterdam verbaas ik mij toch telkens weer  – dat land en water zo dicht bij elkaar kunnen staan. Het water staat hoog, het is vloed, de wind huilt  – ruig Hollands weer! Wij pakken aan de kade aan de voet van de Erasmusbrug  de waterbus.

Nieuwe Maas

Wat een geweldig vervoersmiddel en je kunt op de boot gebruik maken van je OV-chip! Dat ding vaart met hoge snelheid landinwaarts. Grote rivierschepen passeren en ook aan de oevers liggen heel wat duwbakken, die grotendeels afgedankt lijken te zijn. Wat een bijzondere wereld – de schaal is zo anders – van planning/ ontwerp kan hier geen sprake meer zijn. Er valt heel wat op te ruimen. Verbaast ben ik ook over de grote gebouwen op het land die er als boten willen uit zien, waarom?

En die ferry maar scheuren het water zwiept langs de ruiten. Vlak voor Kinderdijk, dat langs de Lek ligt draait de boot het Noord op. Op de punt van het poldercomplex Alblasserwaard ligt een heuse Villa – wat een geweldige plek. Dordrecht is nu niet meer ver – al met al heeft de rit een klein uurtje geduurd.

Aankomen per boot in Dordrecht is fantastisch! Deze stad heeft een echt Waterfront te bieden. In Dordrecht stappen wij weer op de fiets zelf hier is het getij nog voelbaar. Het water staat erg hoog – nog eventjes en het spoelt over de kade, net als 3 weken geleden toen de kelders van het centrum van Dordrecht onder water stonden. Toen hadden ook polders vooral in het noorden van het land moeite de watermassa’s naar zee af te voeren. Doordat het water in de Waddenzee, opgestuwd door de wind hoog stond kon het polderwater dat via de boezem en het Lauwersmeer op het wad gespuid moest worden niet weg. De dijk leek het niet meer te houden – dorpen moesten geëvacueerd worden. Uiteindelijk ging alles goed en kon het water nog voor dat de dijk het begaf geloosd worden.

Al fietsend over de zeedijk, die als een verhoogd terras door tal van andersoortige wijken loopt kom je van alles tegen. Ook water. Naast rivierwater in het plan Tij, een woonwijken waarbij de waterstanden fluctueren, polders die deels onder water gezet zijn. De strook tussen rivier en dijk is wel 1 km breed en lijkt een experimenteel gebied te zijn geworden voor het wonen en recreëren met water. Het ziet er spannend  maar ook rommelig uit. Een eindje verderop  fietsen wij richting de rivier, om preciezer te zijn naar de zijtak van de Beneden Merwede. Deze zijtak heet Wantij. Het wantij is de plaats waar vloedstromen van twee zeegaten zich – hier vanuit de Beneden Merwede en de Merwede elkaar aan weerszijden van het eiland ontmoeten. Hier is de vloedstroom het zwakst en bezinkt het meeste slib. Er is op de plek wel sprake van eb en vloed, maar nauwelijks stroming, met als gevolg dat het wantij de meest ondiepe zone is. Dit natuurlijke proces is lang geleden tot stilstand gekomen, doordat de Merwede met een sluis afgesloten werd.

Met een sloep, waarop ook de fietsen geladen worden zetten wij over. Een hele groep mensen ontvangt ons al zwaaiende. En hier zitten wij dan de komende 24 uur. De plek is klein – buiten is het heel modderig door de aanliggende met hekken omzoomde spaarbekken is de bewegingsruimte nogal beperkt.


Het is leuk om aan de mensen uit te leggen – er zijn veel buitenlanders bij- dat wij in een laag liggende Delta wonen en dat deze plek in open verbinding met de zee staat. Het is alsof wij op een boot zitten – om ons heen overal water. Afgelegen maar toch heel dicht bij de stad.

At the end of the story I notice that the text was written in Dutch  – sorry about that – next time I will do it in English.