Oostvaarders Montage

railway dike with a view

Oostvaarderse plassen Visitors Centre

A little walk in the Oostvaardersveld on a Saturday afternoon: a fox, a snake, birds, insects, butterflies, flowers. Small-scale nature with a rather un-Dutch variety. Yet something is missing. We hardly realise where we are. Behind the high railway embankment, nature seems inaccessible.
Of course the design location for a new visitors centre is beautiful in itself, but we also have our doubts about it. We prefer not to add more man-made things to the area. And preferably as little paving as possible. Even the paths and roads that cross the area now feel like disturbing interruptions in the fragile landscape, as well as the small buildings, streets and cars.

advisor - landscape:Matthieu Derckx
Oostvaarders Schematics
Oostvaarders Situation
Oostvaarders Floorplan Situation

We therefore propose to make use of the biggest element in the area that already exists: the railway embankment itself, strategically located between the Oostvaardersland and the lakes. We do not actually build - we dig holes into the high, massive body of the embankment. From above one has the desired overview without having to build a tower. The dike forms the dividing line between the world open to visitors and the natural landscape they should not enter.

At the same time, the dike signifies an artificial separation between different types of landscape. With our intervention, we want to partially restore this separation. The new building is a connection for man and water, maybe even for animals. We enlarge the open water on either side of the track and connect the waters through a tunnel that forms part of the building. The dug-out soil adds to the dike body, making the dike broad enough, at this specific spot, to accommodate our entire building.

Oostvaarders Model 2A
Oostvaarders Model 3
Oostvaarders Model 4

We do not design a new building - we put a train station on top of the dike. Platforms and terraces are one and the same. This will allow a growing proportion of the visitors to come to the area and to our centre by train. All the spaces required for the building are inserted in the dike. The two-sided centre opens out to both the Oostvaardersplassen and the Oostvaardersland and offers sheltered views, terraces in nature and pleasant, flexible, useful accommodation spaces inside.

Oostvaarders Elevation
Oostvaarders Model Inside 1
Oostvaarders Model Inside 3
Oostvaarders Model Inside 2
Oostvaarders Model Inside 4
Oostvaarders Section 1
Oostvaarders Section 2
Oostvaarders Section 3
Oostvaarders Section 4
Oostvaarders Section 5
Oostvaarders Section 6
Oostvaarders Section 7
Oostvaarders Section 8

Here, bicycles can be rented, and in the building itself there is room to play, to learn, to listen, to read and to watch. The  spaces are simple and beautiful with good light, pleasant proportions and robust, natural, durable materials like concrete and wood.

The jury found our scheme brilliant but unrealistic. Why?

Oostvaarders Model 1