• Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier
  • Noord-Holland
  • NL
  • 2006

The Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK) is the organization responsible for water management in the province of Noord-Holland. As such it has a significant influence on the spatial appearance of the Noord-Holland landscape on many different levels and scales. In spite of this the organization and its activities are relatively unknown to the inhabitants of the region.

Within the framework of the manifestation Markering Zeeniveau (Marking Sea level) that intended to increase the familiarity of the public with both the organization and its activities we did three proposals on three different scales: one to elaborate a conscious architectural policy, another for an outside exhibition throughout the Noord-Holland landscape that would present the changing of the landscape through the ages (Shifting Landscapes) and a third for an actual spatial object in the polder landscape: Mechanized Comfort.

1. The Hydraulic Map reveals the spatial and programmatical reality of the polder landscape.

2. The map shows the landscape as a neatly designed flow chart, comparable to an efficiently arranged PCB; a fully mechanized landscape.

3. This landscape wouldn’t exist without technical devices. The liveability and comfort that the landscape generates, is mechanically established and maintained by barrages and pumping-engines. But this mechanized landscape is only perceptible for insiders; all mechanisms are hidden inside anonymous, green enamelled steel boxes.

4. A marking of sea level in the province of Noord-Holland is practically impossible without frightening sensible people. The mechanized landscape though, represents sea level indirectly and in a positive and confident manner: it is invented and made by people and it generates comfort. Marking the mechanized landscape possibly provides an insight into the spatial and programmatical reality of the polder landscape to the public. It represents comfort and could possibly generate confidence, interest and even pride, without inspiring fear.

5. The mechanized landscape could be marked by gradually replacing the anonymous steel boxes by new technical hoods with a strong, ambiguous identity and appearance and largely financed by the annual budget for maintaining anonymous steel boxes.

6. The new technical hoods could be designed as chairs or benches, dependent of the size of the sheltered mechanism. The chair symbolizes manmade comfort, but in reality also will provide a specific comfort in the landscape: people can really sit on it, at times even generously heated by the gently vibrating, distantly controlled mechanism. As a reference for the actual form of the chairs the archetypical modern architects chair by Le Corbusier (1928) would be most suitable: modern, yet apparently comfortable.

7. The marking intends explicitly to open up the polder landscape to the public. The comfortable chairs invite one to enter the landscape, take place and on the border of different water levels enjoy the endless perspectives of Dutch ditches.

8. The hoods will be made of impact-resistant transparent plastics. They literally reveal the mechanism of the landscape and besides are maintenance-free and light weighted. Possibly the plastics should be coloured in order to emphasize the artificiality of the landscape. Lights inside, fed by sunlight during the day, are automatically put on when darkness falls, creating a nightly landscape of luminous chairs and benches.