Creating a panoramic experience over UNESCO-protected wetlands

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The Dutch seaside village of Lauwersoog is a popular place for fishermen casting their nets and visitors venturing into the UNESCO protected coastal wetlands. Outside the protective dikes the landscape is dominated and continuously shaped by the tide. Inside prevails peace in the cultivated fields and nature.  This makes it an excellent place to experience the incredible ecosystem of the Wadden Sea and understand our roll within the natural world. In this intersection between cultivated land and wilderness, The Wadden Sea World Heritage Center will illuminate life and nature in the remarkable Wadden Sea area.

The Wadden Sea World Heritage Center will not be an ordinary museum or visitor center. It is a working field station that wants to engage visitors and aims at making them active participants. Visitors can explore their own role in and impact on the natural environment and witness the work of researchers firsthand. This will strengthen the awareness of this important environment, our nature and climate. 

“Drawing inspiration, the endless cycle of the tide, the gradual spiral-like incline – like the continuous rising and falling of the water surface – offers a stunning 360-degree view of the sea, the Lauwersmeer and the surrounding landscape as visitors ascend through the building. It almost gives you the feeling of being one with the sea,” explains Dorte Mandrup.

With a seemingly endless panoramic view stretching far over the Dutch landscape and the UNESCO protected Wadden Sea, the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center will complete Dorte Mandrups Wadden Sea Trilogy. Last in line after the Wadden Sea Center in Denmark and the Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Center in Germany this marks the third project in the unique environment of the Wadden Sea.

A spiraling movement

Rising from the harbor visitors are welcomed by a large south facing stair and ramp leading to the main entrance. Towards northwest another stair provides a space to unwind and watch the constantly moving sea. Both inside and outside the primary material is wood which creates a warm, inviting and natural feel. The façade reveals glimpses of the activity inside and at the same time provides carefully adjusted shading. 

Inside the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center, activity is buzzing throughout the day. From the main entrance, visitors enter the Reception Hall and move gradually upward through the building with the 360-degree scenic view of the surrounding landscape and into the inner workings of The Wadden World Heritage Center. The building will provide spaces for students and researchers to study the ecosystem and wildlife of the Wadden Sea. Everything showcased is connected to the Wadden Sea climate, nature and activity of the region and research equipment lay ready for action in full view.

Once visitors have reached the 2nd floor the experience of the exhibition culminates with an impressive view into the underwater world of the rescued seals in the large show pools. On the roof visitors will have the opportunity to see the pools from above, meet the seals up close or just enjoy the astonishing view and the rays of color from the evening sun.  

Read more about the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center.

ABC Nova is managing the project, which is designed by Dorte Mandrup in collaboration with ABT Wassenaar, DGMR, Lüning, DAAD Architecten and LAOS Landschapts Architectuur. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.