Paul Hemmen, Robin Ammerlaan
Eindhoven University of Technology
Ours is a heritage of reclaiming land, taming rivers and ‘fighting’ the water.
As an old Dutch saying goes: “while God created the earth, the Dutch created the Netherlands”. Dutch landscapes are planned. Our dikes and delta works are the embodiment of landscape engineering. In this changing climate, the peak discharges of our rivers continue to rise. We have learned that heightening our dikes is no longer a sustainable, nor an affordable, solution. Our approach has changed in recent years. Instead of fighting the water, we adapt to it. We protect our cities from flooding, by allowing land to flood elsewhere. Meinerswijk is a place where this happens.
We both grew up in the south of Arnhem. Arnhem’s southern suburbs are separated from the city center by the river Rhine and its floodplains. Meinerswijk is the floodplain park that skirts the Rhine’s southern embankment. We see it as Arnhem’s green heart. Without Meinerswijk, the river would hit a bottleneck at Arnhem. Resulting dike breakages and flooding would put 4 million Dutch homes at risk. Including both our childhood homes, where our parents still live. We have chosen to share our view of this particular landscape with you. Not just because it is close to our hearts, but also because we consider it truly unique. In our video, we will show you a landscape shaped by necessity and function, yet embraced by many diverse uses and full of natural life.
We have sought to compose our scenes in such a way as to highlight some of the landscape’s most notable characteristics. We wrote an accompanying text, which Ray Waller narrated for us. First, its form and function, which is predominately defined by both modern and historic flood defenses. The dynamic of the water dictates the flow and rhythm of all aspects within this landscape.
Second is the area’s proximity to the center of Arnhem. We have sought to incorporate the city’s skyline in various shots to emphasize this. Harm Hemmen allowed us use of his drone, to fully capture this proximity. And thirdly, the dynamic between man and nature within this landscape. Various habitats are home to diverse wildlife, but bigger creatures also roam here; wild horses, semi-domestic cattle, and people.
Meinerswijk has brought close functions and uses that you would not normally expect to find within the urban fabric. We now sit together putting the final touches to our video while we can see a flock of geese land in Meinerswijk against a backdrop of Arnhem’s skyline. What a beautiful necessity.