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The way people in the Netherlands deal with water is changing. Rather than fighting nature by building ever-higher dykes and using more and more technology, they are searching for methods of integrating natural systems with the built environment in order to cope with the effects of climate change. Urban water systems are not yet equipped to handle increasingly extreme and frequent rainfall, droughts and heat waves. Though the Netherlands has been coping with a wet climate for centuries, existing solutions no longer suffice. Het Nieuwe Instituut’s archive harbours countless historical examples of how the integration of hydraulic engineering and water management into spatial planning, urban development and landscape architecture can add cultural, social, ecological and economic value.

Van Eesteren and De Casseres

A series of closed workshops beginning in October 2014 will investigate the relationship between water management and urban development through the study of historical materials from Het Nieuwe Instituut’s archive. The work of Joël M. de Casseres (1902–1990) and Cornelis van Eesteren (1897–1988) will serve as a focal point. Both men regarded the city and the landscape as elements that, rather than standing in opposition, had become part of the same system. In the context of contemporary water issues, Van Eesteren’s and De Casseres’s ideas about the integration of elements, systems and flows are relevant once more.

The workshops will be created and led by Fransje Hooimeijer (Delft University of Technology), Lodewijk van Nieuwenhuijze (H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten) and Frits Palmboom (Delft University of Technology/Palmbout–Urban Landscapes). Participants will include students, designers, civil engineers, policymakers and other professionals. Over the course of the project, the progress and results of the research will be tracked in written and visual reports to be published on this page.

New way to engage with nature

The study is being conducted on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment as part of the government’s 2013–2016 architecture and spatial design programme, ActieAgenda Architectuur en Ruimtelijk Ontwerp (AAARO - in Dutch). Het Nieuwe Instituut’s project Nature & Spatial Design, on so-called nature-inclusive design practice, comprises part of the same programme. Through these two projects, Het Nieuwe Instituut proposes a new way for the design profession to engage with nature. The effects of climate change and the growing scarcity of resources necessitate this new approach, which will also improve the quality of life in urban areas.