Wieringen Passage
Wieringen Passage A constructionplan designed at a regional scale If there is one spatial development that has captured the headlines in the Netherlands in recent years, it is the plan to separate the former island of Wieringen from the polders of Noord-Holland by the creation of a new lake. A mayor had to step down, letters were sent to government ministers asking them to examine the plan critically, and an angry artist who spent three months in prison for setting fire to the planner’s office. At the beginning of 2008, the municipalities of Wieringen and Wieringermeer as well as the province of Noord-Holland approved the masterplan for the Wieringen Passage. This new passage to the south of the former island of Wieringen is intended to connect the Amstelmeer with the IJsselmeer. Around 2000 new permanent and recreational dwellings are planned in and around the passage. The Wieringen passage is expected to provide a much-needed economic impetus to the region. In addition, the project will enlarge and improve natural habitat areas and improve agriculture, recreation and rural living standards in the area. The Xxxxxxx consortium – composed of Xxxxxxand Xxxxxxxx – commissioned the designers at Xxxxxxx and Xxxxxxx to design the masterplan, which was developed on the basis of various existing models designed by Xxxxxxx. This is a construction plan being designed at a regional scale. It involves simultaneous conceptualization of a large water body in the peninsula of Noord-Holland, traffic design around the lake, design of water edges and banks, the form of housing islands, subdivision principles and the design of bridges, housing thresholds and water levels. Wieringen is very old and up to 1930 was an island; the Wieringermeer polder is pumped dry only in the 1930’s.The designers had a preference for the scenario in which Wieringen was to become the sole boulder clay island of the Netherlands once again, with offshore sandbanks providing space for the development of recreational facilities and housing. This version envisages the flooding of the entire polder of Waard-Nieuwland and part of Wieringermeer. Ecological gradients are to be introduced depending on the depth of the water and the situation in relation to the island, ranging from the shallow foreshores to the reed lands just above water level, and from the wet grasslands to the dry-land wooded nature areas on the small islands with housing. Further it involves traffic design around the lake, subdivision principles and the design of bridges, housing thresholds and water levels. The configuration of the new islands is partly based on sightlines to and from Wieringen. The shaped woodland-elements play an important role in the visual structure of this part of the lake. They outline spaces, connect, hide or emphasize different parts of the area. The atmosphere of the islands reflects the atmosphere of the land behind the dykes. In the western part the former Island of Wieringen has a romantic, organically developed, soft-rolling landscape, while in the east there is the pragmatic polder of the robust Wieringermeer with its long strong lines. In the eastern part the water is relatively deep and banks are steep. The easternmost island is like a boat floating in the lake. In the northeastern part a new housing island is nestled against a relic of the former ‘boezem’ of the polder Waard-Nieuwland, that will dissolve in the future lake. Moreover, the historical dyke, the Wierdijk, which is now on the border between Wieringen and the polder can regain its traditional significance. Extensive areas for recreation and beaches will be scattered around the islands. There will also be space available for housing on the other (eastern) side of the lake at the Robbenoordbos, which will have waterways for pleasure boats. An ecological corridor will be created on the south shore. We think that this large-scale, courageous intervention is the only way of providing the declining region with the desired socio-economic impulse. In the Netherlands, planners have to go back to the days of Cornelis Lely, the engineer known for the Afsluitdijk (IJsselmeer dam) and IJsselmeer polders, for any long-term plans of this magnitude. Some of the present residents and users find it difficult to accept that their agricultural landscape is going to be overturned for a recreational and nature landscape, which only their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy. One of the designers puts it this way: ‘For centuries, we sacrificed water for land without difficulty for our own well-being. Now we have to learn that it is legitimate to sacrifice land for water for the same reason.’


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