Rode Waterparel

De Rode Waterparel is a masterplan for the development of 1500 homes on a 250ha site in the middle of the Zuidplaspolder. The ambition of De Rode Waterparel lies in making a sustainable balance between exclusive forms of living and recreational community facilities in the middle of a special, water-rich landscape.

Landscape The basis for the development of the still bare and flat polder are the traces of the old stream landscape in the form of a creek ridge. By raising the water level at the location and the adjacent nature reserve by about one and a half meters and dynamically managing it, a unique landscape can develop. The deepest parts will be submerged and turn blue, the higher creek ridge rises above the landscape like a green pendulum. In between lies a yellow-orange transitional landscape of creek banks and creek edges. The local differences in soil types form the breeding ground for contrasting vegetation. Aquatic plants in crystal clear water on the unique cat clay, reed and willow species just below the water and multicolored fruit and fruit trees just above water on the clay sand grounds. Finally, the high creek ridge with cultivated soil provides a nutrient-rich soil for sturdy forest plantations of ash, elm and poplar.

Living The landscape has created a series of distinctive residential environments that can roughly be divided between high and dry environments on the creek ridge and more water-rich living environments in the lower parts; the new water pearls of the Zuidplas Polder. In response to the demand for cohesion within the low density of 9 won/ha, all forms of housing are spatially and programmatically organized in communities; new forms of collective cohabitation with recreational facilities.

"The most scenic Rieteilanden are located in the open water of the northern water pearls."

At the Kreekrug rooms people live within the contours of sheltered woodlands. The orientation of the hills is versatile, partly due to the stepped structure: sometimes on water, sometimes on green riparian land, sometimes on reed beds. The sheltered heart offers space for small-scale community facilities such as a natural pool, children's playground or vegetable garden.

The Rietslagen are a new wetland environment based on the long lines of the agricultural landscape. About fifteen piers bordered by a wide reed collar protrude confidently into the open water and are crowned with a communal canoe or swimming jetty with a small boat house. The area as a whole flows into the nature of the Groene Waterparel.

The exclusive water pearl De Rietkreken is located in the somewhat more dry area. Small-scale creeks with crystal-clear water are embraced by four or five individual homes on predominantly larger lots. The gardens lead out into the creeks with a private jetty or terrace. The creeks are connected by a meandering watercourse to form a pearl necklace. The lots are separated from each other by wide reed beds and have optimal privacy.

The most scenic Rieteilanden are located in the open water of the northern water pearls. Climate and seasons are clearly experienced here with an ultimate feeling of freedom. Only a limited number of houses are located on the one-sided roads and are opened up by club paths over the water. There are a number of lots without a permanent riverbank connection for the most ultimate freebooters.

Landscape ecology The development of a wetland landscape in which people live in communities offers a unique opportunity to deal with nature, energy, climate and management in an integrated manner. Clean water is the motor of this 'ecology', which can provide a rich diversity of 'nutrients' and products that benefit living. Large amounts of biomass in many species are released in the area. Wood for the wood-burning stoves and building materials, thatch for the roofs of the house, willow for edging and fencing, hay and grass for the local riding school and for composting the gardens.

Housing in turn releases 'waste materials' which in turn serve as food for the landscape. Disconnected gray water is buffered and filtered in the creek reservoirs, garden waste is used in a composting process and CO2 and particulate matter are captured by the rich vegetation of the landscape.

Finally, the water-rich landscape also offers an excellent opportunity to create a 'water-cooling' landscape. By letting the wind skim over the water surface, a natural air conditioning can be created. In the further energy balance, the sun is used to generate heat energy and electricity through the many sloping roofs of the houses.

Client: Municipality of Moordrecht and Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel and the Development Company Zuidplas Polder cv. Project: urban development and landscape master plan for 1500 homes in communities, facilities and recreational water landscape Design: with BVR advisors Ecology and climate advice: Alterra Wageningen Location: Rode waterparel, Zuidplaspolder Planning: design 2008