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Michel Schreinemachers, Marijn Schenk and Bart Reuser, with Jurriaan Hillerström, Wiebe Strick, Boris Gohin, Javier Ruiz Ilundain, Giulia Di Dio Balsamo with Pieter Schengenga, Jaap van der Salm, Inge Kersten, (H+N+S landschapsarchitecten), Arjan Vergeer, and Bart Feenstra
Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) and the Province of Overijssel
Spatial Quality Plan, design and realisation of artworks
Kampen, The Netherlands
H+N+S landscape architects
Isala Delta

Room for the River IJsseldelta is a large-scale infrastructure project with a real impact on the geography of the Netherlands: the creation of the Reevediep saw the realisation of 20km of dykes and 350ha on new delta nature. Combining water safety and spatial quality was the leading principle of the Room for the River programme and has been fully achieved. The landscape was central to the development of the area. The architecture of the artworks is sober: they do not stand on their own as autonomous elements but are inherently connected with the spatial quality. This is the main strength of the design. The artworks are above all functional, they contribute to the experience of the landscape and create value for future generations. The Netherlands has gained a new and unique piece of land.

Room for the River IJsseldelta is part of the national programme Room for the River initiated by Rijkswaterstaat (the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) i.c.w. provinces and municipalities. In order to control the risk of flooding in the Kampen-Zwolle region, more space is being created for the river IJssel. The assignment was taken as an opportunity to qualitatively develop the area. Room for the River created more room for rivers at 30 locations in the Netherlands and Room for the River IJsseldelta is the last and most ambitious one. It is the closure of the national programme and a milestone marking the fundamental change in the way we think about water safety: it is not about building higher dykes, but about developing the area around the rivers to let the water in safely and easing the pressure on the dykes. NEXT architects was involved in two of the Room for the River projects:  Room for the Waal in Nijmegen with the iconic Zalige bridge, and Room for the River IJsseldelta.

Room for the Rivier IJsseldelta brings together government, constructors, engineers, architects and ecologists. By collaborating closely from the early stages of the project, it was possible to make important optimisations of the initial design and improve the spatial quality.

A series of special artworks was created by focussing on the distinct identities of landscape and artwork: the Nieuwendijk bridge, the recreational lock, the IJssel dyke inlet work, the ‘Reeve lock gate complex’, and the ecological fish passage. The artworks are contemporary and sober in form and material. The straightforward design uses less material, but is also responsible for the object’s strong shape and experience. The artwork become a natural part of the landscape without being intrusive. Their function and manner of working within the water system are directly readable. In addition, they all have one clear architectural signature for coherence and unity within the Reevediep. With the new hiking and biking paths, and a channel for recreational sailing, the Reevediep has become an attractive and accessible natural area and it offers opportunities for the further development of the city of Kampen. The essence of the Room for the River IJsseldelta project has now become a reality: to combine water safety with the development of the area.

NEXT was closely involved in the realisation of Room for the River IJsseldelta within the consortium Isala Delta, with a.o. Boskalis and Van Hattum en Blankevoort. NEXT was also part of the spatial development team headed by H+N+S Landscape Architects. Earlier they developed the Spatial Quality Plan in commission of Rijkswaterstaat and the Province of Overijssel. This document set the requirements for the design of the artworks, bridges and locks, by taking the experience of the water and the new delta landscape around the Reevediep as the starting point.

Several objects were realised for the project. The most important are IJssel dyke inlet work, where the water can enter the bypass with high water, and the Recreational Lock where recreational boats can enter the area. A fish passage ensures a permanent connection for fish migration between the IJssel and the Reevediep and the Nieuwedijk bridge spans the entire Reevediep.

Currently NEXT is working within the consortium at the realisation of the ‘Reeve sluice gate complex’, which is necessary to safely discharge the water coming from the river IJssel in northern direction. This is the project’s second phase and is expected to be realised in 2023.