Tuesday March 25th, 2014 Waterloopbos


Tuesday was a working day for the Waterloopbos project, as well as a design charrette. It was a challenge for us to make a quick reflection toward this former hydrologic testing area and then provide a renovation idea for it. But it was also the most fun part of design—we worked to strike a balance between keeping the old testing models and designing new things. The site itself is so amazing and needs to be re-deciphered; the former water infrastructure is like a relic. There are large amounts of shady forest with meandering and straightforward creeks almost everywhere.

The design process was interesting, especially when we tried to handle the “treasures” of our site—the former water models. Our group enjoyed finding interesting hidden things among the site, and we even decided to visit the site again to rediscover the hidden values. Based on our rediscovery experience, we decided to enhance the water connectivity experience, to introduce a different water experience to people.

Over the design charette, we learned a lot from different professionals. They shared our ideas and generated some questions for people from different cultures. As a Chinese person, I guess we have to think more about future water issues than immediate problems. Some people in China are more willing to migrate to a “wealthy place” rather than build more water infrastructure. We had a really impressive dialog among different cultures, and exchanged the ideas on intrinsic values and potential site interventions.


Tuesday was a really interesting day; we had worked all afternoon the day before on understanding and creating ideas for the park, and then many groups dug into producing for the presentation that was due at 3pm. However, others decided to have a second look at the site and find even more treasures that would complement their proposals. My group was one of the groups that decided to go out again and check out a nice spot for our proposed new visitor center.

With the limited amount of time and the need to have a clearly proposed plan for our reviewers, we hurried outside to check the space.  In this second small trip we had more liberty for where to go; we were able to walk at our own pace while observing and understanding the site. We were interested on one specific spot of the site but as we walked along the road I was able to get a feeling of the edge and entrance condition of the park and how that may be seen by the people going by. Similar explorations were made by other teams that morning, which allowed them the freedom to wander and understand a little more of the site. Some teams found new treasures that inspired their designs for the presentation.

As the teams made their way back and started to work, everyone’s concentration was focused on production and last minute decisions. Since we are used to sharing and walking around as we work on our designs back in America, it made the presentation more of a surprise because no one had time to check on anyone’s work. It also made them more exciting, because we wanted to see how the ideas had change from Monday to Tuesday.



Yesterday, we stole through sleeping giants; today, we tried not to wake them.

Still in awe from our walk through the quietly decaying hydraulic models in Waterloopbos, we gathered to create our designs, at a little bit of a loss of how our artificial implementations could improve such a place. With priceless relics of Dutch infrastructural engineering sleeping under a blanket of Beech leaves, peeking out between the columnar rhythm of the expansive floodplain forest, the park had an enchanting quality that would be impossible to recreate. We laid out our trace paper and gingerly sketched out our ideas, but had a hard time allowing for much loudness in our schemes.

Many of our groups adopted a light hand and chose to fit unique programming activities into the park with opportunities for revenue generation. Lindsay Hawks, Rachel Burand, and I focused on preserving and enhancing the cultural history of the site. The historic significance of the Delft Hydraulic Laboratory models lends itself well to opening up rich educational interactions with the scale models as well as with the still-functioning wave flume lab. With hundreds of years of history layering the “old land” in the Netherlands, the reclaimed “new” polderlands created in the 1960s are sometimes looked down on for their presumed lack of history and culture. We strove to highlight the forward-thinking ingenuity of DHL research through our programs and events with hopes of getting visitors excited about the “New History” of the polderlands that is also so vital to the Dutch identity.

Our day closed with an inspiring review hosted by Norbert Kwint, the forest manager of the park. Community engagement coordinator Hans Doodkorte and water engineer Lou Verhage also joined; the panel was eager to hear about our proposals. Restoration of the models, and making them “future proof” as Lou put it, was a high priority for Natuurmonumenten, so the reviewers appreciated the angle our groups took with leaving the models in their current state as relics. We left Waterloopbos filled with energy, and had one last glimpse at the park as we drove away, the sunlight illuminating the forest of the sleeping giants.