Date: 2008 - 2009
Location: Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland), Netherlands
Support: PSU Discovery Summer Undergraduate Grant; Advisor Jawaid Haider
"The first real challenge lies in the statement and creation of problems [the right problems], the second challenge lies in the discovery of genuine differences in kind; the third, [in] the apprehension of real time." ~Gilles Deleuze
Globally, population growth has begun to push the bounds of our environment. As we attempt to grapple with this issue, we often turn to science and technology as a means for solving the problem. However, some problems cannot be solved technically. In "The Tragedy of the Commons," Garrett Hardin recognizes these types of phenomena as "non-technical," or those which cannot be resolved through science or technology. Non-technical solutions require a collective mind-set change. Population growth and global warming are two such issues.
This thesis uses Hook of Holland in the Netherlands as a case study for how architecture can reveal non-technical solutions for site issues. Hook of Holland is a coastal town along the North Sea that contains an extensive dune system that, through its complex ecosystems, acts as a buffer between the adjacent sea and town, two incompatible programs. Keeping the two separate is difficult -- as Hook of Holland is sprawling due to population growth, the North Sea is rising due to global warming and, at the intersections of these phenomena, the dune system becomes increasingly boxed out.
Since the issues involved are inherently non-technical, an architectural intervention cannot solve the issue. Numerous architects have proposed housing structures on the dunescape to relieve the pressures of population growth. While their proposals technically solve the problems of building foundations on shifting soils, they fail to account for the more systemic issues created by surpassing and undermining the dynamic system intended to protect their town.
The thesis, therefore, proposes to keep housing off of the dunescape, letting it remain recreational space. The intervention is a lightweight, elevated modular walkway that allows changes in the dunescape to be measured over time. Additionally, the walkway minimizes the impacts on the dunes by controlling circulation from the town to the sea. The pavilions across the length of the walkway serve as mobile research stations, each designed to capture the most minute changes in the dunescape and relay this information to researchers and passers-by.