Monday March 23, 2014 Waterloopbos


Today we went exploring in Waterloopbos for the upcoming charrette tomorrow.  We left the hostel at 8:30 in the morning, hopped on the bus and headed to the project site.  After a week-long project, which was very time-limited compared to our other school studio work duration, this one is even more condensed, lasting for two days.

Although the charrette keeps us for a short period of time, as professionals, everybody’s enthusiasm is not diminished. We are still super excited about what is going to happen. Before going into the site, there was a two-hour bus trip ahead of us. After lots of bus riding experiences in the last two weeks, the journey has become our precious snoozing time. The atmosphere became drowsy soon after the bus was running on the road. The morning sunshine and sweet dream shortened the distances between those two cities. As I opened my eyes again, there were already two nice people who work for Natuurmonumenten waiting for us. Followed by an unexpected warm welcome; both of them shook hands with all 14 of us and of course there was tea, coffee, and fancy snacks inside the room.

A presentation was given by three experts in different fields: landscape architecture, hydraulic engineering, and forestry. With the basic idea of the project we went to the site and did some experimental walking with our guides. The site is a natural space with some industrial feel. Rusted machines were scattered all over the space. I could not help to stop and take pictures, not only for project use but from my attraction by the unique aesthetic. Then the highlight of the day came along: sleeping on a hostel boat. The day ended with dividing us into five project groups. Then we walked to the hundred-year-old boat where we stayed for the night. Before we got on board, we went to the only restaurant that was open at the time. It was fancy, luxurious, and delicious. The city became very quiet when the stars appeared in the dark sky.  Wrapped up with all the information we took in today, I threw myself onto the soft cabin bed, to have a good night sleep for sure.



The Waterloopbos is a former hydrologic testing area where scaled down models of river and coastal systems are used to test out flooding and engineering scenarios. The models blend into the surrounding 70 year old forest, on land that used to be sea bottom and is now a park under the care of Natuurmonumenten. The former land forms and pool boundaries are beginning to fade into the forest: rusted weir structures and shrunk polders crumbling into the pool banks. These pools are where water becomes a window to the sky, with the reflection of the beech and birch tree canopy branching throughout its calm, breeze dimpled water. Sitka Spruce tower on the high ground where attentive wanders may find telling sea shells mixed into the sandy earth. Despite its well paved paths, the ruins themselves became our paths, an open to interpretation route linking the many pool “rooms”.

It is a quiet place: contemplative, growing, and young (only 70 years dry). Despite its “age”, it still holds a power that feels old in its moss lined paths, bramble covered shores and pool ruins. No place is less, and yet also more Dutch. It is less in its lack of management and formal design that defines most Dutch landscapes, more in how it is reclaimed land that was used to further the national battle against rising water levels through hydrologic study. Here miniature battles were waged in preparation for the real threat, wave machines pumping against scaled dike armoring. Now that such models have switched to the computerized realm, the park looks to recreate and activate its woods and pools.