The A4 Delft - Schiedam (A4DS) motorway, close to the city of Delft and Rotterdam, transects an area of outstanding natural beauty and a typical Dutch polder landscape with willows, godwits, sheep and ditches. In order to reduce the visual impact of the motorway, and also reduce noise pollution, the motorway is concealed by recessing the motorway in the landscape. This is either half or fully - up to 6 meters below ground level - or by having the motorway run partially through a tunnel. “Hear nothing, see nothing, smell nothing” is the motto for the routing for the A4DS.

A motorway through the countryside is obviously difficult to conceal. Not just because of vehicles producing noise and emissions or because the motorway is a vast element, but also because a motorway involves a vast schedule of requirements influencing an area well beyond the motorway itself.

The plan is characterized by a strong geographical division between north and south: the first part of the motorway proceeds on ground level through a recreational area at the perimeter of the Municipality of Delft. The second and recessed part transects a cultural-historic polder landscape with a bird nesting area, intersecting ecological structures, an extensive recreational programme, a complex water management system, and intersecting small-scale infrastructure. The third part proceeds through an urban area via a tunnel. Above the tunnel, a sports park with trees and cycle paths is built. 

The Honey Highway

The 7 kilometre A4DS between Delft and Schiedam is a paradise for bees and the first Honey Highway in the world. Organic flower seeds were planted along the A4 to benefit the bee population and counteract possible extinction. This Honey Highway gives bees a new chance to settle on chemically untreated land, typically found adjacent to motorways.

The Honey Higway is a collaborative project of initiator Deborah Post, together with Rijkswaterstaat, the Province, the municipality of Midden-Delfland, A4ALL Consortium, businesses, sponsors and citizens, and is likely to see repetition throughout the Netherlands.

Client: The Dutch Road and Transport Authority
Principal: Consortium A4ALL, consisting of Boskalis, Heijmans and VolkerWessels
Architect: ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects
Landscape architect: Bosch Slabbers Landscape Architects
Year: 2015

Photographs: Rijkswaterstaat, Marc Blommaert/Heijmans, Jorgen Caris and ZJA