Water + Wood

A present for all Rotterdammers

On Friday 23rd november 2018 off shore company and multinational Van Oord presented the city of of Rotterdam a gift on the occasion of it’s 150th birthday. The gift was presented on a symposium in the Laurenskerk. H+N+S together with NEXT architects designed this special object which will be realised next year at the Brienenoord island. Alderman Bert Wijbenga gladly welcomed the gift and called the initiative a ‘great gift’ for the city.

News Nov. 26, 2018, Amersfoort
A present for all Rotterdammers

River and city, nature and men meet - clotted in steel and wood…

In 2018, Van Oord, a family-owned company based in Rotterdam, celebrates its 150th birthday. This significant milestone provides a good occasion to reflect on Van Oord’s long and rich history of ingenuity in marine engineering, and an even better occasion to look into the future. But Van Oord does not just want to look at and talk about the future, Van Oord wants to create the future and shape the world we live in for future generations, guided by values like sustainability, biodiversity, innovation. Van Oord will start right in its home town Rotterdam, along the edge of the Maas River. 

The Maas connects Rotterdam with the port, the sea, Europe and the rest of the World. It forms a connection between North and South, but also divides the city districts. We nevertheless see the Maas as the city’s most important urban space, a unique selling point. Currently, the places where people can really get in contact with the river and experience it are limited. To put it simply, where can you really touch the water, stand in it, feel it, hear its sloshing?

The river and its waterfront hold so much potential as an attractive public space, a place for people to enjoy. Its natural value can greatly improve by changing hard edges like quays into soft natural embankments and by doing so introducing tidal parks along the Maas. To encourage this change, Van Oord presents to the city a gift that honours the river as the city’s lifeline and invites people to get in touch with the river and appreciate its many qualities. Let’s start at the Brienenoord Island with its mesmerizing views on both the city skyline and the iconic Brienenoord bridge, where ships pass by daily and nature flourishes. This point offers a unique place to experience the relationship between river and city, between people and nature.

Here on the southwestern tip of the island we build ‘Water Woud’, or ‘The Water Woods’, a forest of steel pipes that form a viewpoint over the Maas River. A poetic, mysterious structure, referring to both the harbour and Van Oord’s activities, but also to the wooded Van Brienenoord island. 

The structure functions as a double look-out. On one side you can climb up to watch the vessels pass by and enjoy the panoramic view. On the other side you descend into the wondrous world of specific water flora and fauna. Here you experience the tidal flows and discover unique delta species, like the characteristic spin-dotter flower and sweet water mussels, that use the structure as habitat. Up in the pipes, birds and bats nest and breed.

There’s more to come as the Maas meanders through Rotterdam and time passes by. The ‘Water Woods’ gift marks the beginning of a series of so called ‘Maaspoints’ where people can get in contact with the Maas, experience the tides, the power of the water, and its sounds, smells and natural values. With the ‘Water Woods’, Van Oord creates the first Maaspoint. Other Maaspoints have been identified along the river intended to be interventions like the ‘Water Woods’ – related, but each unique. Van Oord gladly passes the torch onto other companies and organisations in Rotterdam to realise another Maaspoint. Who’s next..? 

Maaspoints – powered by Van Oord – Marine ingenuity

Design: H+N+S landscape architects / NEXT architects 

Design logo: Rietveld communication

Animation: studio Tungsten

(c) foto Hans van der Meer