in collaboration with VHArch architecten, Bosch en Slabbers landschapsarchitecten ea, commissioned by Van Oord/GMB

On the initiative of the Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe a high-water channel will be constructed between Veessen and Wapenveld in spirit of Ruimte voor de Rivier*. This is a ‘dry’ shore of 8 kilometres that will flow with the river once the water reaches extremes heights (approximately once in the span of a human life). VHArch held responsibility with Van Oord/GMB for the architectural ‘works of art’, such as the inlet, the bridges and pillars, various weirs and pumping stations etcetera. Bosch en Slabbers were responsible for the integration into the landscape. VHArch asked me to contribute to the design from an artistic perspective. Besides suggesting various designs in regards to the design of the pillars and making a large number of artist-impressions of the ‘works of art’, I also suggest the artwork THE HEARTBEAT OF THE IJSSEL. Beneath the bridge, where the grass doesn’t grow, an elongated piece of art is created in collaboration with near-by residents. This piece is allowed to grow throughout the years. February 1995 marks the date when water from the Ijssel reached the tops of the dyke. This historical fact instigated a new way of thinking about high-water safety. ‘The Heartbeat of the Ijssel’ represents this story of the cause and consequence of the ‘Ruimte voor de Rivier’ policy and of the high-water channel Veessen-Wapenveld in particular. Every three years the water levels of the Ijssel of the passing years will be added to a segment of the bridge. When the bridge is completed in 2015, the first 20 years of measuring points will be visible. These measuring points consist of oval drops of high-gloss RVS. The rhythm of the river sparkles in the dark space beneath the bridge. It takes about the span of a human life to complete this work, by then it will be 780 metres long. The chances of incorporating the flowing of the high-water channel are thus very high! ‘The Heartbeat’ shows the passing of time with the rhythm of the river in a sober and subdued way. Functionality and art work well together; the dark space under the bridge gets meaning, even though there will be no water flowing underneath it for most of the time.

Design: spring 2013
* Ruimte voor de Rivier is a Dutch ‘Key Planning Decision’ that was enacted on the 26th of January 2007. Its goals is to prevent flooding of the larger rivers and the improvement of the ‘spatial quality’ of the river areas.