The Dutch Water Line


According to Iconeye magazine, since the 80 Years’ War with Spain, The Netherlands has used a system of hydrological defence known as the “Dutch Water Line,” which involved purposefully flooding low-lying “polders” to create a sea-like moat. Then, in 1815, the defensive system was upgraded through the development of the 85km-long “Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie.” Later, in preparation for World War II, the line was further bolstered by a set of 700 heavy-duty bunkers. However, the line wasn’t only used for defensive purposes, it also helped shape the highly-engineered Dutch landscape, forming a sort of early “regional planning.” Now out of use, a landscape architect joined forces with an artist to more deeply explore the left-over bunker infrastructure found along the line. 

Rietveld Landscape, an Amsterdam-based landscape architecture firm, partnered with Erick de Lyon, an artist, to slice Bunker 599 in half, creating a walkway in between. Ronald Rietveld told Iconeye: “We were really fascinated by the fact that there were so many of these things. They are just there, they are waiting for something.”

To make the bunkers “culturally accessible” and create a “public domain out of them,” the team used a diamond-edged saw to cut through the dense bunkers, steel frames, and meters-thick concrete. In addition, the landscape architect and artist didn’t fill in the large gap between the bunker and landscape that is the result of “fragile, subsiding Dutch ground.” Instead, they left the site rather exposed.

Over time, they hope to turn the entire line of defenses, which saw little action in World War II, into a new public space for contemporary Dutch.  

Read the article. Also, learn more about how the Dutch are preparing their low-lying domain for rising sea levels.

Image credit: Iconeye magazine / Atelier de Lyon and Rietveld Landscape

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