This design for a new intake pumping station at the river Bergsche Maas provides an answer to the question how to incorporate civil engineering structures into the Dutch landscape in a contemporary and meaningful way. West 8’s work connects three values: the story of water collection, the characteristics of the watery landscape of the Biesbosch and the ambition to omit disturbing fencing while maintaining a high level of safety for visitors and staff.
Whirlpool: natural icon for water collection
The station pumps water from the Bergsche Maas to three nearby reservoirs that form the life line of the water supply for millions of Dutch families and businesses. By introducing a real whirlpool on one side of the river, the dynamics of this massive water displacement and the story of the water extraction are immediately recognizable. It is a natural icon in itself and a potential branding opportunity for the water company. A narrow steel scaffolding offers the public a safe view of the whirlpool.
Mound, recognizable landscape element
The pumping station is located in the Biesbosch National Park, a wetland of tidal creeks and tidal willow forests. The many dykes and ‘terpen’, traditional Dutch mounds, are visual icons. Long sightlines turn the vast dike contours into dominant landscape characteristics. The design keeps the dike along the Bergsche Maas intact. The pumping station is located within a newly raised mound. The grassy slopes makes the design fit seamlessly into the phenomenal river landscape.
Safety without fences
An important part of the pumping station is the trash rake cleaner. Moving it downwards into the mound keeps a major security risk away from the public. As a result, above-ground, aesthetically disturbing fences can be omitted. This provides an essential contribution to spatial quality.
Minimal, location sensitive materials
The landward oriented wall of the pumping station is clad with river clay brick with an iridescent glaze in Tichelaar Makkum style, which subtly changes the color of the facade as the sunlight changes throughout the day.
A single fence protects visitors who want to admire the view from the top of the mound. The coating is made from genuine bronze particles, a technique West 8 previously used in the design of the Noordwaard bridges.
The typical Dutch ‘grass concrete’ tiles minimize the visual impact of the access roads and parking facilities on the landscape. Special granulates encourage the growth of grasses and mosses.