Droogte in de Delta

Tentoonstelling Droogte in de Delta. Foto: Aad Hoogendoorn
    • from September 19 to November 1, 2020
    • Keilezaal in het Keilepand
    • Keilestraat Rotterdam

For hundreds of years, the design of the Netherlands was primarily aimed at draining water quickly and efficiently to prevent flooding and increase agricultural productivity. Today, prolonged droughts mean that we need to find ways to retain water longer and allow it to penetrate deeper into the subsoil. The exhibition ‘Drought in the Delta’ presented the results of the IABR–Atelier of the same name. The Atelier, led by Marco Vermeulen (Studio Marco Vermeulen), explored various possibilities to increase the water buffering capacity of our delta landscape. The aim of this research by design was to develop building blocks for a new freshwater strategy, considering the increasingly intensive use of surface and subsurface areas due to current developments such as the energy transition, food production, and urbanization.

The exhibition was part of IABR: Down to Earth and presented projects by, among others, H+N+S Landscape Architects and De Urbanisten in addition to the results of Atelier Drought in the Delta.

    • Credits
Droogte in de Delta. Foto: Aad Hoogendoorn.

The dry summer of 2018 prompted the IABR to launch an investigation into the possibilities of large-scale surface and underground freshwater storage. Led by Marco Vermeulen (Studio Marco Vermeulen), the Atelier Drought in the Delta explored ways to increase the water buffering capacity of the Delta.

The aim was to provide building blocks for a new freshwater strategy in conjunction with other transition challenges, such as the energy transition, food production, and urbanization, which are leading to increasingly intensive use of surface and subsurface areas. ‘Climate change is forcing us to turn the Dutch water machine back into a resilient delta,’ said Vermeulen.

The results of the Atelier Drought in the Delta were presented in the exhibition in a 30-m-long animation. The Dutch Delta is a landscape formed and defined by the outflow of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers into the North Sea, a system that stretches from Germany to France and Belgium. Studio Marco Vermeulen and Tungsten Studio showed how this delta functions today, the problems posed by climate change, and what it would take to develop a new, shared freshwater strategy.

Exhibition 'Drought in the Delta'. Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

The results of the research by design were presented in the form of two cross sections of the Dutch Delta, the Delta in 2020 and the Delta in 2050. The first section shows how our delta functions today and what problems have arisen due to climate change. The second shows the possible building blocks for a new, common freshwater strategy in connection with other transition tasks, such as the energy transition, food production, and urbanization.  

The exhibition ‘Drought in the Delta’ also featured four Dutch projects that explore the possibilities of a new water management models. 

Underground Freshwater Storage

Under the name COASTAR, a consortium of research institutes, businesses and governments explored the possibilities of large-scale underground freshwater storage for four sites in the province of South Holland. This resulted in a toolbox that can be used in other regions of the Netherlands and in coastal areas worldwide.

Realization: Allied Waters, KWR, Deltares, Arcadis

Sustainable freshwater supply through smart use of the subsurface. Image: COASTAR, Pepijn Barnard
Panorama Waterland as a driver for the agricultural and energy transition.

Panorama Waterland

Together with landscape architects and other partners, water company Vitens is investigating how it can continue to provide 5.7 million customers in the Netherlands with sufficient drinking water. In Panorama Waterland, the water system and the soil are leading for land design and land use. The study focuses on a new integral spatial concept that takes the retention of available water as a starting point. The starting points were tested in a test design for the Sallandse Heuvelrug.

Realization and research by design: Vitens, H+N+S Landscape Architects, Ruimtevolk, Roosemalen & Savekoul  

Water Mosaic ‘Groene Hart’

At the initiative of the Groene Hart steering committee, the participants conducted research by design on the effects of sustainable water management. Instead of land use, water level management and soil condition are the controlling factors. They searched for the best water management model to combat subsidence, CO2 equivalent emissions, salinization, and the effects of drought per soil type. Appropriate forms of land use were then linked to these.

Research by design: Sant en Co, FABRICations

Building block for Water Mosaic Groene Hart. Image: Sant en Co, FABRICations
The Sponge Garden by De Urbanisten. Photo: IABR

Sponge Garden

The Sponge Garden is a practical investigation by De Urbanisten into a new, sustainable approach to water management in an urban environment. How can an attractive outdoor green space act as a sponge in the city, a green space that can absorb and retain water during periods of heavy rainfall?

Realization and research by design: De Urbanisten 

The ‘Drought in the Delta’ exhibition presented concrete possible solutions that local and regional governments can use to address their own specific challenges while contributing to a coherent transition of our Delta. It is an example of how the IABR bridges the gap between research by design, public presentation, and concrete action. The free cultural space is deliberately used for an open process of imagination and development aimed at the implementation of the results.

Drought in the Delta. Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn.