Evelien De Mey

Landscape Architecture

Blauw Goud: Het verborgen landschap van ons Nederlandse leidingwater

The Dutch landscape is full of gates, fences, walls, barbed wire and locks. It seems as if everyone wants to demarcate and protect his or her property, and keep outsiders out. Not so strange; the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and people prefer to arrange things neatly and properly within Dutch culture. This is also the case for the available land and the designated use hereof. It seems as if every piece of land belongs to something or someone and that they want to make that known. Fencing and closing off appears to be the simplest and clearest way of doing this. That’s why you will find closed and hidden land everywhere in the Netherlands.

In the Soestduinen (Soest dunes), there is a closed groundwater abstraction facility owned by Vitens. Why would there be a fence around the site while the water is abstracted deep under the ground level? Is it possible to open it without cause any damage and why would we want to open it? Entering into discussion with Vitens about now and the future, the reason of closure may be discovered. Soestduinen is the oldest water abstraction facility of Vitens and the first water abstraction facility in Utrecht. There is a beautiful, but empty, pump building. It is even a nationally listed building and the site contains many old relics that can reveal a lot about the technical water abstraction landscape. The design arose for a unique addition to the landscape with the search to gain support for water abstraction companies, guarantee the safety of drinking water and consider the reason for opening. In the design, we let the landscape tell the story of water abstraction through time. But vulnerability also plays an important role. The water abstraction facility will become accessible to the surroundings with a special route.

The nationally listed building will be given a new use whereby the water abstraction facility will once again be connected to the landscape. Emotion will be engaged with through themes like purity and depth and tap water will be given a unique place to present itself to the public.

Commission member: Hanneke Kijne (mentor), Hank Tilborg, Rianne Makkink. Additional members for the exam: Bram Breedveld, Paul Achterberg.

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