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Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester Metropolitan University

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Whose Finger is in the Dyke? Jandirk Hoekstra N+H+S Landscape Architects

International Lecture Series. Jandirk Hoekstra N+H+S Landscape Architects, with an introduction from Richard Coutts, Director of Baca Architects. March 1st 2017. Sponsored by GreenBlue Urban.


In Europe our relationship with water is rapidly changing as we attempt to deal with the impacts of climate change at both a local and glocal level.


It was therefore apposite that the two speakers in our open International series of lectures proposed a complimentary understanding of the problem in respect of the need for systemic, adaptive and resilient solutions, but with very different philosophies in terms of how to apply these solutions.​


Richard Coutts, principle of Baca Architects and author of The Life Handbook (The LifE Handbook: Long-Term Initiatives for Flood-Risk Environments. IHS BRE Press; Feb. 2009) and Aquatecture (Robert Barker and Richard Coutts. Aquatecture: Buildings and cities designed to live and work with water. Publisher: RIBA Publishing. Jan 2016.) hosted the evening on behalf of the MMU Landscape Programme. With planning regulations still operating in a sub strategic mode, it is often left to people like Richard to blaze a trail of innovation, which in future might become best practice advice, issued by central government. The design by Baca of “The Amphibious House” in Henley on Thames illustrated how a focused client, combined with technical expertise could deal with flooding and possibly act as a template for larger scale future development.

Several schemes, illustrated from the practices portfolio, further explained this approach of packaging a knowledgeable client/developer, a progressive planning department and design innovation to convert land susceptible to flooding to future waterproof housing. (Tyram Lakes, Royal Docks, Cantin Basin, Dordrecht, Littlehampton and Barking Riverside).

Room for the River: Aerial view of the project (image courtesy of H+N+S)

Jandirk Hoekstra is a director of H+N+S, a Landscape Architecture practice established in 1990, who have developed a wide experience in unique and bespoke infrastructure design.

Discussing infrastructure in a Dutch context, inevitably means dealing with water and the practice has had extensive involvement in “The Room for the River.” This strategy is unique in the way that it framed policy and extensive consultation from national to local level as a key component of establishing an approach that is holistic, comprehensive and four dimensional in its application.

Jandirk, through the course of his lecture was able to illustrate how history and an enlightened view on the role of the designer in national and regional planning frameworks has enabled a range of multi-functional landscapes. Their primary objective is to reduce the impact of flooding, but along-side this objective, they provide multiple development opportunities for urban expansion, ecological integration of a diverse number of systems, leisure and recreation.


The principle scheme used to illustrate this approach is at Nijmegen, one of the most complex projects within the programme. A secondary bypass channel has been constructed, creating an elongated island in the river Waal. Several new bridges improve the connectivity of the area and the island and bypass channel have formed a new river park that reduces flood risks, but also provides opportunities for recreation and habitat creation.