Jelmar Brouwer

Jelmar Brouwer

Course
Landscape Architecture
Class
2017
Email
jelmar@jelmarbrouwer.com

The Dutch Level - Future for a Finite Landscape

We all know that image. Green meadows, small rhythmic plots surrounded by water, the ditch level close to the ground level and cows grazing in the fields. It is a typical Dutch image that we associate with the Netherlands and is also the benchmark of the Groene Hart (Green Heart) area. It is a given in this landscape that we live below sea level and the peat soil subsides each year. Nobody realises how this works and what consequences that will have.

On average, the soil in the western part of the Netherlands is subsiding by 10 millimetres per year. It is a relatively slow process that has already been underway for centuries. The soil has now subsided many metres and will continue subsiding even further if we continue like this. This will have consequences for our safety, for the costs of the landscape, for the possibilities thereof and for the climate.

The Dutch Level is a vision for the future of this landscape. A long term vision where we assess the value of the landscape, retain the qualities, preserve the peat and work towards a thriving landscape once again. It is a turning point in the way in which we have been organising the landscape for decades. We therefore call a halt to the lurking deterioration of this landscape.

The current landscape is organised in accordance with the principle ‘water level follows the function’. That is to say a uniform landscape and more than 120 different water levels in order to be able to preserve that. As a result of processes that we are not able to exert any influence on, such as the various compositions of the soil and the associated speeds of soil subsidence, that has got totally out of hand.

By setting one water level instead, existing ground level heights do not pose challenges, but  opportunities. The new and higher water level will lead to different water depths. Growing conditions and opportunities for crops, which are suitable for these wetter landscapes, will therefore arise. They will bring diversity to the uniform landscape and make the area more attractive to people from outside.

This vision advocates the broadening of our horizon that is currently restricted due to practical arguments. It is a feasible future prospect and reveals the possibilities for a new landscape. An economic boost for the farmer with unprecedented recreations qualities as a result. Expansive hiking areas, an unprecedentedly large waterway network, thriving village centres and development opportunities for the farmyard.

Landscape, system, use and recreation go hand in hand with this. The Dutch Level is a future perspective for the next Dutch landscape and an opportunity for the metropolis.

Commission members: Hanneke Kijne (mentor), Ruut van Paridon, Bruno Doedens. Additional members for the exam: Philomene van der Vliet, Roel van Gerwen.

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