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Bionic Dike Wageningen

The bionic dike is a proposal to approach our water safety with an alternative strategy: adaptive. Instead of repeatedly raising and fortifying our rigid dikes, we start building an integrated water repelling landscape, which moves along with the environment and strengthens itself over time. A dike landscape that protects against the forces of nature and at the same time restores the relationship with it’s beauty, which static dikes neglect. Dikes are ancient structures that change very slowly. The Grebbedijk has been built in the twelfth century along the north bank of the Lower Rhine. The dike protects Wageningen and the... Read More

The bionic dike is a proposal to approach our water safety with an alternative strategy: adaptive. Instead of repeatedly raising and fortifying our rigid dikes, we start building an integrated water repelling landscape, which moves along with the environment and strengthens itself over time. A dike landscape that protects against the forces of nature and at the same time restores the relationship with it’s beauty, which static dikes neglect.

Dikes are ancient structures that change very slowly. The Grebbedijk has been built in the twelfth century along the north bank of the Lower Rhine. The dike protects Wageningen and the Gelderland Valley from flooding, but also blocks the relationship with the river. Rising water levels in the Rhine are a great danger for the whole region. Reason enough to critically question the logic of Grebbedijk. Protects the Grebbedijk enough? Are our rigid dikes still the right tools in the context of rapidly changing climate? And can a dike do more than only keeping the water out?

With the bionic dike, we propose a dike system in which adaptive biobased landscape design and adaptive civil engineering meet. The dike landscape serves several purposes: It provides a higher level of protection than the existing Grebbedijk, provides new spaces for agriculture, economic activities and recreation and connects the city of Wageningen with the beautiful Rhine landscape.

The Grebbedijk transforms gradually: A firm biobased dike system arises through the cultivation of willow forests that are harvested and used to raise the soil. This bionic dike landscape is being populated by willow farmers, estate inhabitants and visitors and tourists. The organic material inside the biodijk ferments and produces hot water for the city of Wageningen.

At the historic town of Wageningen, the Grebbedijk gradually changes to an adaptive technological system that is underground during low tides, but uses the pressure of the flood to keep up with the outside water level. This “sliding dike” can also be easily extended in the future. This system offers the city of Wageningen an unprecedented panoramic view on the Rhine, the new marina and floodplains. The city finally gets the worldwide premiere of the bionic dike and takes full advantage of it’s unique location in the Netherlands, between the Veluwe, the Binnenveld and floodplains of the Lower Rhine.

FACTS
Location: Wageningen (NL)
Program: 5,3 km linear metre of water safety works,
agriculture, recreation and a marina
Client: BNA, Delta Ontwerpplatform (Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment),
Waterschap vallei en veluwe, provincie Gelderland, Gemeente Wageningen
Partners: Lola Landscape Architects, Braaksma & Roos Architecten
Year: 2015-2016
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