Five future strategies for the Dutch delta in 2120

The five cases

1. Zeelandia
See the entire design on the website.

Studio Hartzema, Feddes-Olthof and Witteveen & Bos

Zeelandia proposes a new symbiosis between land and sea. Housing, nature, ecology, agriculture, aquaculture, energy and other forms of land use find their place in the mighty landscape of the south-western delta. The team sees the area as an ideal laboratory for this. Three different water scenarios for a sea level rise of 3 meters have been investigated, and the consequences for physical planning have been calculated. The Zeewaart scenario creates a large drop lake off the coast of Zeeland that protects the land and also helps generate energy. A Superdelta scenario has also been designed, where space is given to the water, and the sea can penetrate our country right up to the German border.

2. Rotterdam as a mushroom city
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Urbanists, Lola, Royal Haskoning DHV

In this design, by expanding ring 14, Rotterdam will become a mushroom city with its own fresh water supply, because the Maas will become a fresh inland lake. The collected rainwater can be buffered locally in the city. This means that the city can provide for its own water needs. The port falls outside the ring road and must in future be completely raised in the existing tradition to keep the economic engine running. Every thirty years, a site will be raised and rebuilt in balance with nature.

3. Midden-Delfland as national productive national park
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Sister, Flux and Sweco

This team sees Delfland as a national productive park. Hotter summers will increase the drought in the surrounding cities, population growth will make surrounding cities densify and the need for surrounding nature, water and air will increase. Midden-Delfland must become a green lung and a sponge for the viability of the surrounding towns. This design is based on a simplified water system with fewer dams, pumps and locks, with opportunities to increase biodiversity, provide raw materials such as wood and food, and offer a solution to flooding, sedimentation and the threat of salinization. The urban fringes of Rotterdam and Delft will form a high urban framework for Midden-Delfland and remain within this boundary to protect the area as a green lung.

4. Limburg: in the capillaries of the delta
See the design online.

Defacto, Vista and Arcadis

How can the gorge valley in Limburg retain water better to prevent flooding during extreme rainfall? The design by this team wants to make room for the water and includes many interventions to collect, slow down and drain water. This means that the entire landscape must be regrown with the traditional graves and forests. The design also highlights changes to the landscape that are needed to make it more productive, for example to store CO2.

5. River area, Waal: Breakthrough!
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Fabrications, BoschSlabbers, Tauw

The starting point for the River Corridor Waal team is an extreme scenario. They argue that our water system with dikes and Delta works will not work in the long term. Eventually, the inevitable system breakdown will occur: the river system will return to its natural flow in an open route between hinterland and sea. The only thing we can do is manage this ‘crash’ by already betting on a semi-open system and managing this ramp-in-slow-motion. The design includes evacuation scenarios, retreat strategies and ways to rebuild where we learn to live again with the seasons and the dynamics of the natural system, for example on sandy islands in seasonal houses.

More information

The designs can be seen during the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam until 13 November. More about Delta’s Redesigning program can be found on the website.

For interview requests, please contact Karlijn Spoor, Communication Advisor Resilient Cities & Mobility at TU Delft: 06-41612272 or

The training is an initiative of the Delta Urbanism group at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft. Partners are Convergence Alliance Resilient Delta (a collaboration between TU Delft, Erasmus MC and Erasmus University), Deltares, Wageningen University & Research, PBL and IHE Delft. Experiences, insights and results are shared with the Delta programme.

TU Delft | Resilient Cities & Mobility

At TU Delft, we research, design and realize the cities of the future. Cities that are built in a sustainable way and are robust so that they can cope with today’s major challenges such as climate change and population growth. Cities where innovation and economic growth are possible, but where residents’ well-being, health, spaciousness and equality are also taken into account. In addition, we are working on the sustainable, smart infrastructure and mobility of the future, so that we can continue to move properly and efficiently without further burdening the environment. We do this through interdisciplinary research and by collaborating with various parties such as companies, authorities and citizens.

For example, TU Delft collaborates with Erasmus University and Erasmus MC in the Resilient Delta Convergence Alliance. The mission of Resilient Delta is to design resilient solutions in the Rotterdam Delta for worldwide implementation. Our aim is to develop an integrated approach to the major social problems that the Rotterdam region is increasingly confronted with, such as rising sea levels, poverty and inequality, air pollution, population density and major technological changes.

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