River dike Rotterdam

Water is a quality but also a threat for the city of Rotterdam. The combination of sea level rising and increasing amounts of water brought by the river from upstream, form a serious future challenge for the Rotterdam river dikes. How can we turn this threat into an opportunity to create new relationships between the city and its main water, the river Maas?

We rethink the traditional Dutch dike and come up with a method to score and value different dike configurations based on six parameters: level of safety; ability to control; extendibility; space occupation; barrier effect; possibilities for multifunctional use. These parameters equally represent technical and spatial criteria. Together they help us to ease communication between different experts. At the same time it makes us understand that there is no generic best solution. Each situation asks for a fine-tuning of parameters to balance out the best specific solution. That is why we call this instrument “Dyqualizer”.

We propose a series of innovative dike designs that both strengthen their safety and improve their quality as urban spaces. After analyzing the existing Rotterdam dikes, four strategies were defined for four different locations in the city of Rotterdam: the dike as instrument to transform areas; the dike as public urban domain; the dike as a basis for urban development; the dike integrated into a building. These four strategies increase in level of complexity and each one is illustrated on its most suitable location in Rotterdam. Therefore they are designs that serve as material for discussion between different professionals, in order to understand the full potential that  an integrated approach can bring to all parties involved. This project is conceived in extensive series of workshops that we led and elaborated in exemplary design proposals.