The dyke reinforcement of Hansweert is part of the High Water Protection Programme, in which central government and water boards work together to protect the Netherlands from flooding. The dyke reinforcement has a major impact on the spatial experience of the village and its surroundings. Besides the hydraulic and landscape interventions, there was therefore a strong desire to create new places to stay on the crest of the dike and on the beach, and to bring back more challenging play areas in the park zone. Blom&Moors designed the layout for these spots.
The location along the Westerschelde estuary and the prevailing maritime climate demand robust design elements that blend into the open landscape and the use of sturdy and durable materials that can withstand wind and weather. Basic materials are concrete and reused wood from old mooring posts that are sawn into thick planks or crookedly sawn parts. Here and there, among all the rectangular forms, a slant can be read as if the elements were carried away under the influence of the westerly wind. A number of shapes are actually derived from nature. Graphics are an integral part of the elements. In collaboration with Raakvlak graphic design and communication, a contemporary typeface was developed for this purpose.
At the retaining wall
On top of the crest of the dike, there will be a concrete retaining wall more than two hundred metres long that will protrude in front of two 10-metre-long benches with wooden seats and raised wooden backs. Sheltered from the sea wind, they offer views on the village.
To mark the crossing of the dyke and to prevent the top of the retaining wall from inviting walking, the retaining wall between two dyke steps on top is fitted with a series of concrete balusters. Their shape is derived from the hexagonal cross-section of basalt columns that once served as dyke revetments. The play of slanting lines and the rhythm and shadowing of the balusters, which vary in height, give the place a playful look, which changes all the time in passing and under the influence of the position of the sun.
On the village side, the refrain of a song lyric by C. Oele from 1966, is incorporated flush into the concrete retaining wall in brass letters.
The retaining wall will also have a brass panel showing the year of completion and the new NAP height reached. The moments of previous dyke reinforcements and corresponding historical NAP heights will also be indicated in the steps with sunken brass letters.
On the beach
To make the summer beach at Hansweert, in a bowl on the Westerschelde estuary, more accessible and safer, the slope of the dyke will be fitted with a concrete 'sitting staircase': along the staircase, three wide intermediate platforms form dwelling places where you can sit or sunbathe.
The sitting platforms have sloping sides so that sand, weed and water can easily wash around them. On the upper plateau there is a bench in line with the benches in the retaining wall. At high tide, the lower part of the robust steps can be submerged without any problem.
On the dyke
At the height of Schore, the Westerschelde makes a bend and the large sea vessels come close to the shore. The busy viewpoint there will have a new building with a platform and a long bench. The spot will provide shelter from sun, wind and rain. In the future, the viewpoint can be extended with a staircase from the cycle path and an information panel.
The walls and the roof of self-compacting concrete will be fitted with transparent glass building blocks that let daylight through. As a result, the interior looks light and playful and visitors can see each other coming and going. On the outer walls, the grid of glass bricks features the name 'SCHORE', referring to the place name and its origins in the salt marsh landscape.
Bicycles can be parked against the long robust railings on either side of the little building. In combination with a series of bollards, they demarcate the parking area up to the edge of the dike and enhance the experience of the panorama.
In the park
A full-length wetland and natural park zone will be created between village and dyke. Here, near the pond, there is a concrete bridge and a decking, each with a 'mooring post bench'. The bridge, which is drawn slightly askew, is a crossing and a small square at the same time. The wooden railings of the culvert bridges are also nice meeting places to look out over the park.
In the park zone, four play and recreation areas with adventurous play features for children of all ages fit naturally into the natural green and water-rich landscape. All play areas are equipped with 'lake pole benches'.
Current play offerings translated into new wooden play equipment. New play attractions, such as a multi-post forest 'sprinkled' in the rough grass, provide an alternative route and a nice place to climb, clamber and chat. At the water play area by the pond, dykes, dams and weirs can be made and messed around with sand and water in the concrete basin with sitting edges. Daring youngsters dare to cross a circuit of stones, stilts and beams at the puddle wetland area or do it for the sake of it and get wet.
With the dyke reinforcement, the dyke will become safer. The surrounding areas will also make the dike more attractive for all Hansweerten residents and recreationists to play, swim, walk and look out endlessly over the Westerschelde.