Monday March 17, 2014 – Day 01 Rivierklimaatpark IJsselpoort Charrette

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What is a Rivierklimaatpark? an IJsselpoort? a charrette? Today we embarked on a week-long charrette, (a focused design exercise) with Rivierklimaatpark IJsselpoort project leader Wim Goedhart.

A Rivierklimaatpark or “river climate park” is a multifunctional river design that allows for adaptation to our changing climate: adaptation for the space and conditions the river will require during projected periods of flood and drought; adaptation for ecology to allow natural systems room to migrate along the river corridor; and adaptation for humans, including industrial uses, commercial concerns, and a healthy place for people to take refuge from detrimental health conditions caused by heat island effects in developed areas.

“IJsselpoort” translates as “gateway of the IJssel”, one of the many branches of the Rhine/Rijn River within the Netherlands after it enters the country from Germany (**see below). The IJssel River begins just before Arnhem, and flows north-east around the Veluwe, a high glacial deposit with forested sandy hills and rock, a rare landform in the Netherlands.

This “gateway” design involves industry, residential, environmental connectivity and recreational concerns, together in a package framed by the needs for water safety and the requirements of a changing climate.

A multi-stakeholder group has been working for three years on what the vision of this “gateway” could, and should, include. Five municipalities, the Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Water and Transport), the local Waterschap (Water Board) and the Natuurmonumenten (Nature Monuments Society). Wim, the IJselpoort project leader, works for the Natuurmonumnten, an NGO focused on nature and cultural preservation that operates the entrance to the Veluwezoom National Park just north of Rheden on the slope of the Veluwe,

It is an unusual role for the Natuurmonumenten to play, leading a large project with such a diverse group of stakeholders with such varied goals. This position is one sign of a national government that has been systematically retreating from actively planning various levels of projects in the Netherlands.

So today, we traveled to Rheden by bus and met with Wim at Natuurmonumenten offices for presentations on the role of his organization and the scope of the IJsslpoort project. Ysbrand Graafsma from the local water board and the Rijkswaterstaat Delta Program joined us. He gave a presentation on how the Delta Program is using adaptive management to maintain a high level of protection from water in the face of current and projected effects of climate change.

The Delta Program’s framework is looking to 2100 and beyond. While there is no direct threat, there is an urgent need to act in the face of the projected range of possible damage due to changing water levels in the Dutch delta system. This segment of the IJssel provides many possibilities for increased water storage during floods, increased space for water, and creating more variety of ecological structure between the low-water summer dikes and high-water winter dikes.

In the afternoon we toured the site and focused on a couple of areas within the IJsselpoort plan – the Westervoort Noord area, where there is existing industry and employment to be maintained or expanded, and the Koppenwaard area which has agriculture, a house, a water storage plan, and a site with a former brick factory, house and orchard that is now owned by the Natuurmonumenten.

After returning to Utrecht, students worked in three teams of five, team one focusing on Westervoord Noord, team two on the Koppenwaard, and team three an overview of the entire IJsselpoort project area. They created an inventory of what they learned and experienced on the site structured in five categories: 1) water safety (protection from flooding), 2) nature connectivity, 3) recreation, 4) economic development, and 5) “treasures” (a concept Anita Wijnhold introduced to us during our office visit to HzA in Hoorn on Friday).

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Team One – Westervoort Noord

Rachel Burand, A.J. Evert, Bingqin Huang, Joseph Nowak, Hang Su
Westervoost Noord is the second of six sites that make up the Rivierklimaatpark IJselpoort. It is an integral part of the Room for the River initiative and this site specifically is 70 hectares. Throughout this charette, we will be focusing on five key elements – water safety, natural connectivity, recreation, economic development, and treasures. There are three factories that lie on our particular site in between the IJssel river and a winter dike. They include a recycling facility that employs about 20 people, a concrete production facility that must empty half of its building during times of high water to allow the river to flow through the building, and a brick factory that is now re-used as a storage facility which lies directly adjacent to a noisy highway. All three of these industrial sites have a history of economic viability, which in some way should be replicated or replaced in the future plans for this site.

We thought it was important to use the ‘measures to make room for the river’ to inform our analysis of the site. These include six different dike/water typologies – dike removal, floodplain lowering, side channel, green river, wing dam height reduction, and removal of obstacles. These measures have the potential to initiate natural connectivity, provide potential recreational programming, support economic development, and reinvigorate the site as a whole.

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Team Two – Koppenwaard

Spencer Bauer, Nancy Ferber, Rachel Kerber, Nicole Ponath, Jody Rader
The Koppenwaard is characterized by a number of interesting elements. These elements create an intersection of post-industrial treasure, private recreational development, agriculture, and the potential for nature-based recreational development. The Koppenwaard is delineated by the winter dykes to the south and west, and the summer dike/river to the north. There is little public access to any parts of the site, as the only road into the area is a private gated road. A former brickworks factory and a historic orchard have strong potential for future public engagement.

Red is a dominant color which exists on this site, both in the brickworks relics, the red triangular signs for the river, and the anticipated apples in the orchard. Our experience of the site may have been influenced by the path that we took. Instead of expansive views, we experienced compartmentalized spaces. These spaces were defined by tree coverage, landmarks, fences, and the river/dike. A challenge that we will face in the design stage will be to connect the water with these treasures of this special area.

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Team 3 – IJsselpoort Project Overview

Karen Criales, Lindsay Hawks, Alex Hill, Grace Larson, Shiyue Zhang
In order to get a better idea of the layout and existing conditions at the Rivierklimaatpark IJsselpoort site, our group examined the greater context of the two smaller development areas. When looking at the big picture, we found it important to examine the links between habitat and recreation corridors with notable features of the site that we designated as “treasures.” Looking beyond the 190 hectares of the two plots gave us the opportunity to make regional connections via existing flows of transportation (train station, bike highway, and river ferry). It was a helpful exercise to come back after visiting the site and spatialize our impressions on paper.

As we began to spatialize these, it helped us to cull out nodes of opportunity and constraints. Since height provides such contrast from the typical Dutch landscape, the two capped landfill mounds became an important way to orient ourselves as we visited the site, making us realize their potential as treasures. In order to strengthen the individual development sites within the project, we saw the need for creating connections between nature, economic development, and industry. We also established the need for green corridors that stretch into the urban areas of Arnhem and Westervoort to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Including vignettes of our ideas and observations helped to place ourselves back into the spaces and allow for detailed analysis while still making broader connections.

** A quick geography overview: the “Rhein” river in Germany becomes the “Rijn” in the Netherlands. Before Nijmegen, it splits, and the western-flowing branch, 2/3 of the river discharge, is named the Waal. The north-westerly flowing branch, 1/3 of the river discharge, becomes the “Nederrijn” or Lower Rijn. Just before Arnhem, it splits again, the western flowing 2/3 of the discharge retaining that name, and the north-easterly flowing 1/3 is then named the IJssel. The IJssel curves to the north-east, north, then north-west and empties into the freshwater lake that is now called the IJsselmeer, but used to be the saline Zuiderzee, or Southern Sea, which opened into the North Sea. This became a freshwater lake when the Aufsluitdijk, or closure dike, was finished in 1932 and closed off this water body from the North Sea.