A Wadden Sea trilogy

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Returning from Groningen, Netherlands, where we presented our winning design for a new Wadden Sea centre, we can now share the news of another project situated on the UNESCO protected Wadden Sea. Spanning in length from Skallingen, Denmark and descending the German coastline all the way to Den Helder in the Netherlands, the Wadden Sea encompasses a vast ecological expanse.

Surrounded by water, the new building will sit at the intersection between the calm waters of the Lauwersmeer in the harbour and the Wadden Sea where the tide dominates. A unique location for architectural pursuit.

"A completely natural focus of the building is its’ association with the surrounding water. We found inspiration for the gradual spiral-like incline of the floor from the changing tides of the Wadden Sea. Each level of the building leading to the next gives the guests a sense of being at one with the tide” explains Dorte Mandrup.

Resting on wooden stilts at the water's edge, the building stands dominantly above water level. This draws on references from historic harbour piers and pays homage to the port city location of Lauwersoog.

Outside a sloping plinth links the building to its’ surroundings. Connecting the roadside to the promenade level of the building, the plinth gradually descends into the harbour water. Internally the structure is defined by open floorplates which create a continuous ramp climbing towards the sky, framing the vast surrounding horizon. The use of glass throughout the building reiterates this.

The building will house exhibition space, office and research facilities, a seal centre as well as a café, restaurant and hotel. As people ascend through the building, they will experience stunning 360 degree views of the Wadden Sea, the Lauwersmeer and the agricultural landscape in the distance. The restaurant is placed beside the seal centre, giving guests views of the seals in the neighbouring pool whilst a rooftop terrace with panoramic views overlooks the World Heritage site. A rare vantage point in a novel location.

An inclusive space for everyone to enjoy, the project offers a location for new experiences, recreation and education. By informing visitors about the surrounding natural ecosystem in the exhibition space, our aim is to improve the unique experience of visiting the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea - an incredible natural habitat.

The Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre is due to open in 2020.