Laurien Zwaans

Laurien Zwaans


Voor Wad hoort Wad

Building on reciprocity in aquatic ecosystems

Twice a day, the Wadden Sea changes from water-landscape to land-landscape. I love the Wadden and as an avid sailor, I enjoy the beauty of the Wadden. "Voor Wad hoort Wad" shows a vision of nature-inclusive building with and through the Wadden ecosystem. Due to rising sea levels, these water ecosystems will become more and more vulnerable in the future. The current way of designing and building needs to consider the interaction between architecture and the water ecosystem sufficiently as an architectural context.    

My vision of building in the Wadden Sea and my iterative design method led to the design of three mudflat works connected by a mudflat walking route from North Groningen to Schiermonnikoog. The wad-works are "experimental gardens" for new collaborations between humans, landscape and nature. They stimulate the mudflat ecosystem to increase biodiversity. The mudflat walk route offers visitors the opportunity to experience this beautiful landscape and the mudflat-works and make them aware of the dynamic mudflat ecosystem.     

The wad-works are designed in three distinctive landscape types; salt marsh, gully and mudflat. With these mudflat works, I intend to address three problems; the extinction of seagrasses, the disappearance of mussel beds and the decline of salt marsh landscapes. My research into human and wild builders, structures, techniques and materials in the mudflats has shaped the mudflat works. I draw inspiration from 'bio builders' such as mussel beds, seagrass beds and salt marshes. For the mudflats, I have tested materials and developed new materials, such as cockle shell composite.       

My design method provides tools for building with and for aquatic ecosystems in the future, reciprocity being the key. Here, the dynamics of the landscape become part of the design. In this way, architecture can enrich landscape and nature, and vice versa; nature can help shape architecture. The use of natural, local and biodegradable building materials ensures this transience. Reciprocal architecture thus contributes to the aquatic ecosystem: "Voor Wad hoort Wad".  

Graduation date: 13 December 2022
Graduation committee: Maartje Lammers (mentor), Machiel Spaan, Bart van der Salm
Additional members for the exam: Pnina Avidar, Dingeman Deijs

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