Work at Overwaard is well underway
Although much has been said and written already about the new Visitors Centre, the coming year promises to bring far-reaching changes to Kinderdijk World Heritage as we know it. By now, initial preparations are well underway, and the first signs of progress are clear to see at the Overwaard side.
“Coming up with a design for two facility buildings in Kinderdijk World Heritage: as an architect agency, that’s a commission you don’t get very often,” John van der Veer of Bikker Architects muses. The agency, based in Groot-Ammers, is responsible for designing the new auxiliary pumping station and education centre, both of which are planned for construction in the new Overwaard entrance zone. “We are proud of this opportunity to make a contribution here,” says director Josia Bikker. As we speak, work behind the Wisboom pumping station is well underway. Once construction is complete, the entrance zone will accommodate a new office building and workshop too.
The reconstructed auxiliary pumping station will serve as a movie theatre. “The building will be carefully reconstructed using the original plans as our point of departure,” Van der Veer asserts. “Still, we aim to show that we are reconstructing time here. That’s why the building will be all black once it is finished. This will make it easy to recognise as a piece of history returning from the mists of time. The added entrance was designed to be a low-key element of the overall structure. Here too, we opted for dark hues and natural materials, given shape by the use of vertical wooden boards.”
The east face of the education building will provide a panoramic view of the natural beauty that adorns the Overwaard high basin. Van der Veer: “The education centre will serve a supporting function within the World Heritage as a whole. This is reflected in the structure’s modest and goal-oriented appearance. Here too, dark shades and natural materials were the obvious choice, dovetailing nicely with the auxiliary pumping station’s appearance.” We designed the shapes of the structures along the lines of the group reception building. “That is why a certain degree of designer’s restraint seemed appropriate here,” Van der Veer explains. “They don’t distract from all the marvels the World Heritage grounds offer already.” Near the entrance zone, a new parking facility for the Overwaard residents is planned to complete the picture.
They don’t distract from all the marvels the World Heritage grounds offer already
A crucial aspect of Kinderdijk 2.0 is its improved infrastructure, allowing for better management of tourist flows. In the future, all groups will enter the area from the Overwaard. A pair of pedestrian bridges – one connecting the boarding & drop-off zone to the entrance zone; the other leading to the Middelkade from there – are planned to facilitate the concept. Part of the Overwaard-side bridge will be constructed out of composite. This material is lightweight and easy to remove, which is handy for the regular acces required for maintenance by the Rivierenland District Water Board.
Total project investments amount to nine million euros. Over half of this sum is provided by subsidies and loans. A total of two million is contributed by sponsors. A team of four local Alblasserwaard (main) contractors will cooperate to get the job done: P. van Leeuwen contractors from Meerkerk; Papendrecht-based firm Gebr. De Koning; Mourik from Groot-Ammers; and Mecron Montage operating from Gorinchem, respectively.