architectural project world sustainable centre afsluitdijk | afsluitdijk _netherlands

published in ARCHITIZER

wire-framing the sustainable future | localisation _the eminent cultural and historical importance of the "afsluitdijk" causeway defines the main parameters of our design. it is characterised by the following aspects: threshold, transition, filter, membrane - transit site. the afsluitdijk links the fryslan and noord-holland regions. the car driver travels across the flood gates on the edge of the town at den Oever and kornwederzand out "into the open", on a seemingly endless stretch of water. this extremely unfamiliar and almost metaphysical experience is heightened by the complete openness and expanse of the landscape, by the permanent wind, the drifting clouds, the rain, the fog, the rhythmic waves and the absence of familiar details.

one is in a transit site: on the one side of the dyke is the saltwater wadden sea on the other side the freshwater ijsselmeer. these two systems mix at the afsluitdijk. the road is also dead straight, only rarely interrupted by temporary stopping points. one's gaze passes unimpeded through 360° to the horizon, while the journey along the narrow, kilometre long dyke makes the experience in time and space, a borderline experience between passing time and traversed space, physically perceptible. the "being on the move ", the "being on one's way" becomes a central emotion. one's own way unexpectedly becomes the central theme of the journey through life. ("he dreamed that he had time and saw himself as a long, straight road." _peter handke) if one stops and gets out, one feels that this is one of the places which touch on the fundamental questions of human life. it is therefore an ideal place for a centre which dedicated itself to researching and safeguarding the sensitive eco-systems on our earth.

horizontality versus verticality _how can this large, clear and radical gesture of the conceptual link between nature and infrastructure, which the afsluitdijk represents, be protected and preserved? can the world sustainability centre afsluitdijk dialogically complement this environment and profit from the eminent effect of this place; even add another effective facet to it? all that is added to this extraordinary natural phenomenon, which complements and enlarges it, should also be radical, clear, simple and at the same time ephemeral. more an apparition than a concrete fact. more a space and place of opportunity and potential than a sensible, practicable solution. more a place of "being exposed ‘, to the wide expanse and openness, to questions and doubts, than a place of "already knowing".

building _our design is therefore a framework, as well as an intellectual working model, a construction. it stands far away in the sea and can only be reached by boat. the framework structure is slender, filigree and above all: it is vertical. it is lofty and yet at the same time fragile verticality is in extreme contrast to the completely flat landscape surrounding it. the landscape environment is dialogically enhanced as a result: the to date virtually unfocusable view of the visitor and travellers is provided with a conspicuous, tall reference point, which at the same time immediately slips away from them again due to its indifference with respect to size, function and significance. 

the structure is vertical, clearly structured and present and at the same time ephemeral, dimensionless and blurred. An artificial, completely vertical "transit site" is added to the natural, completely horizontal "transit site". the construct simultaneously acts like a filter, an adaptive membrane, a receiver station for energy, which could pass through almost unhindered. it collects and processes solar, wind and water energy.

programme_the highly iconographic identity which comes from the free-standing, enigmatic, constructivist structure will attract visitors and scientists from the whole world. the structure suits the spectacular and fluid environment which surrounds us and draws our attention to the eminent forces of the elements, as it is itself designed to be very large, stable and resilient. due to its sheer size and "imperfection" it suggests that it can and should be permanently built further. Its current form is an "initial offer"; the structure must be gradually occupied, filled and extended with specific, changeable uses.

designed by _matthias karch

sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk sustainable centre afsluitdijk