Vlotwatering Bridge

The Bat Bridge

Along the Vlotwatering and the Monsterse vaart, in the middle of the intensive horticulture of the Westland, a new green recreational connection has been constructed with nature-friendly banks and fish spawning grounds. By strengthening the existing green and ecological connections, natural and recreational values complement each other. The Vlotwatering bridge offers a unique opportunity to connect the green route and to make a nature-inclusive contribution by integrating habitats for bats that fly over the Vlotwatering. For this reason, the bridge is also known as the ‘Bat bridge’.
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Bart Reuser, Marijn Schenk, Michel Schreinemachers, Jurriaan Hillerström, Sylvia Hendriks, Luuc Sonke, Anne Hilgers, Anna Korzeniowska

Pieters Bouwtechniek Haarlem (Frank Meijer, advisor)
Lola Landscapes

Dutch Design Awards 2016 / Finalist
ARC Detail Awards 2015 / Winner

Raymond Rutting, NEXT architects

Exploring a natural connection

The Poelzone is an elongated area located in the Westland, between the municipalities of ‘s-Gravenzande, Naaldwijk, and Monster. With its sculptural shape, the new connection across the Vlotwatering winds in a surprising way between two existing plots and marks the entrance to the Poelzone. The bridge is designed for cyclists and pedestrians of the recreational area, but can also be used for occasional car traffic. At its highest point, the bridge curves and provides an open view into the area. On the other side of the bridge, the openness of the wooden slats creates a strong relationship with the water and the banks. To create continuity along the route, the landings have been visually extended and the bicycle-footpath has been continued on the bridge with the same profile and material.

Connecting to the local ecosystem

The Vlotwateringbrug is located along the flight route of various bat species. Three specific bridge sections provide habitats for bats for different seasons. The northern bridgehead functions as a winter shelter, where the temperature is low and stable. Summer residences are provided on the underside of the bridge deck and the masonry balustrade, which are suitable as maternity and mating quarters. The entrance for bats is on the waterside, accentuated by a horizontal concrete edge. The design aims to provide the ideal habitat for various bat species so that a large colony is grown around the bridge. “A textbook example of how a functional object can also serve nature,” says bat expert Marcel Schillemans of the Mammal Society.

Creating Concrete Solutions

With a length of 25 meters, the arched construction spans over the entire Vlotwatering. The concrete construction of the bridge makes it optimally suitable as a habitat for bats, as the mass provides a stable and pleasant climate. Slits are created in the concrete, which are accessible from the bottom, and are part of a pattern of grooves in the concrete arch. The openings have a rough finish so that the bats have a good grip. The constructive space in the cross-section is hereby cleverly used to accommodate bats.

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