Coastal works at Katwijk

A country that for a large part is situated below sea level, sets very critical standards for the quality of its coastal defences.  Throughout history the Old Rhine estuary at Katwijk has proven to be a weak spot in those defences. The Katwijk council, the district water board Rijnland and the province of South Holland commissioned a plan for integrated coastal works, to not only reinforce the dunes with a dike, but also to drastically improve the Katwijk boulevard and build a large underground parking garage. With the entire dune area having to be widened, the Katwijk council saw the opportunity to solve the parking problem and improve the experience of walking along the boulevard all at the same time.

The design

This project, consisting of three tightly interconnected elements, required quite a lot of designing power. OKRA landscape architects designed the way the dike and the parking garage blended into the landscape. The general design and the set of aesthetic requirements, developed by Royal HaskoningDHV,  were later detailed in terms of construction and architectural design, adapted and materialized by Ballast Nedam and ZJA.

In this open dune landscape so close to the centre of town, every detail has a lot of impact. That is why the quality of the underground parking garage at Katwijk had to be found in the logical and consistent execution of the integral vision of the project as a whole, right down to the details of light entry, use of colour, material and images. And all this as an element of a technically ambitious construction project involving dikes and dunes.

The result can be called successful, the Coastal Work Katwijk achieves high quality levels in terms of landscape design, construction and architectural sophistication. There are awards to show for it, like the German Design Award 2017, the IPI Award of Excellence 2017 and the award for Best Building in the Netherlands 2016.

The parking garage

In the dunes a network of foot paths connects town and beach, and hidden among the undulating dunes are the five entrances to the parking garage Coastal Work Katwijk. They have modest proportions and looks, adaptive to the landscape. Their design is waved in harmony with the sea and the dunes, providing a pleasant  access to the garage. The staircases are wide enough to allow daylight to enter in abundance. The design of the entry points for cars refer to the environment in an abstract way. Variations in the patterns of the perforated steel sheets suggest the shifting sands in the dunes, offering an echo of the landscape.

In the design the underground world was considered not just for its function, but as a space to be in its own right, requiring a careful treatment. Being close to the sea, among the dunes, in the town of Katwijk, is a feeling that should be permanently felt while being underground, and that guided the choice for the quality and the colour of the concrete, the pattern and colour in the cobbling, the design of the lighting and way finding. The straight and symmetrical lay out of the garage is helpful. The graphic elements and contrast in colours help the users to find their way easily and casually. There is a town side and a seaside to the garage. Daylight falling in through the glass pavilions lead to the dunes, where we are gripped by the wind, halfway beach and land, town and sea.

Katwijk is protected from the sea by a more robust dike, but the dike is hidden beneath the extension of the dune area. Without being visually intrusive or even demanding attention the coast is reinforced, the boulevard widened, parking capacity hugely extended and the landscape made even more inviting. That is an example of ingenious Dutch design and construction in a through and through Dutch location.

Winner: German Design Award 2017, IPI Award of Excellence 2017, BNA Dutch Best Building of the year award 2016, Prix d'Excellence 2016 Nederland, WAN Infrastructure Award 2016, Falco Award 2015, Rijnlandse Architectuur Prijs 2015.

Nominations: Gouden Piramide 2015, Agemaprijs 2015, Mies van der Rohe Award 2017, Schreuderprijs 2017.

Client: The City of Katwijk
Principal: Ballast Nedam
Architectural design + masterplan: Royal HaskoningDHV
Integral design (architectural, functional, structural and building services): Ballast Nedam + ZJA
Landscape architect: OKRA Landscape Architects
Year: 2015

Project: #778

Copyright photographs: Raoul Suermondt and Dirk Verwoerd.