This Huge Concrete Seesaw Turns Flood Infrastructure Into Fun

This Huge Concrete Seesaw Turns Flood Infrastructure Into Fun

Dutch architectural firm MVRDV recently won a competition to design a unique permanent art installation for the scenic coastal Dutch city of Den Helder. The firm’s design, which will rise on a historic dike directly north of Amsterdam, is a curvilinear observation platform that twists into an infinite loop perched several feet over the sea.

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The catch? The platform itself undulates with the tides of the Wadden Sea, the UNESCO World Heritage site that is known of its otherworldly tidal mud flats, trenches, and islands that start in this part of the Netherlands and extend all the way to Denmark. The aptly-named Seasaw may not be suitable for anyone who gets easily seasick.

The design competition asked firms to imagine a landmark at the end of a three-mile-long walking and biking path the city is building along the dyke. This path will join different parts of the city, which were divided when Den Helder reinforced the long embankment that stops the sea from taking over this part of the country. In this sense, MVRDV says its installation will offer a new perspective on both the sea and the city itself. “The design responds to the current lack of a distinguishable symbol for Den Helder,” the firm writes in a statement. “Seasaw makes a new connection between land and water by creating a viewing platform on the dike, and by the sea.”

[Image: © MVRDV]It’s still unclear how the Seasaw will achieve its rocking motion or how would it work in synchronization with the tidal forces of the sea, though the project is set to be completed in 2019. MVRDV public relations and editor Jareh Das told me via email that the firm is working with IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs, an independent engineering firm in the Netherlands, to realize the installation. Right now, he says the structure will utilize pre-stressed reinforced concrete–but that this may change as they get into further into the project.

[Image: © MVRDV]The installation isn’t the only recent artwork to celebrate the country’s dikes and flood infrastructure. The artist Daan Roosegaarde also debuted a series of installations atop one of the Netherlands’ oldest dikes in 2017.

For most people, watching the sunset over the beautiful Wadden Sea is likely to be a blissful experience. The rest can only hope that MVRDV’s design includes free barf bags.

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