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Responsive Land, Research by design on a sustainable form of agriculture for de Krimpenerwaard

Graduation work by Sander Hermens

1st Prize winner of the IFLA 2016!

In the characteristic peat meadow landscape of de Krimpenerwaard the soil subsides a centimetre a year due to peat oxidation. The peat oxidation is a result of the draining system for the purpose of dairy farming. The consequences of this soil subsidence are extensive. Water management becomes more costly and complicated, construction and repairing of infrastructure becomes more costly, high emissions of greenhouse gases. However shifting from dairy farming to another land-use will result in the loss of this unique landscape.

This thesis consists of an integral design that facilitates the innovative solution of large-scale implementation of submerged drains within the peat soil of de Krimpenerwaard. With this intervention the soil subsidence will be reduced significantly, at the same time agriculture becomes more sustainable and the conditions for production will be improved. However, large-scale implementation of submerged drains will result in a faster responsive water system, demand for water storage in wet times, and extra demand for water in dry periods. With the on-going climate change these problems will even increase.

Problem solution strategy

A process of analysis, design, and validating the design by expert interviews, resulted in the design of a boezem-reservoir that facilitates the large-scale implementation of submerged drains in de Krimpenerwaard. A boezem-reservoir, a well known landscape element in this cultural historical landscape, can tackle these consequences because it can cope easily with a faster responsive water system and it’s very suitable for water storage in wet periods that can be provided in dry periods.


The boezem-reservoir is embedded within the pattern of historical peat dikes and is connected to all polders and the surrounding rivers for the purpose of a fast water transition. The water level of the boezem-reservoir in relation to the ground level defines the nature types that emerge within the boezem-reservoir. Existing ditches within the reservoir are broadened to form a canal (boezemvaart). Thus, a new boating world emerges that is connected with the river Hollandse IJssel through the recent restored lock (Stolwijkersluis).

Regional design

Regional design sections

The area opposite to the historical city centre of Gouda and close to the lock is designed as an entrance to the boezem-reservoir that consists of a cheese factory and a bike ferry as a direct connection to Gouda. With this intervention the opportunity emerges for the dairy farmers in de Krimpenerwaard to unite and form a co-operation such as the case of the Beemster. Quality cheese with a strong brand can be produced here, resulting in higher revenues for the dairy farmers. The transportation of the milk to the factory can be coordinated with small boats over the water of the boezem-reservoir hereby big milk lorries don’t have to access the narrow polder roads when collecting milk.

Design Cheesefactory birdseye view

Design Cheesefactory plan

The design of a summer camp shows the potential that the boezem-reservoir has on a human scale level. The summer camp is designed for camping and playing on the water. Youth from the urban surroundings will have the opportunity to experience the adventure this landscape can offer.

Design Summercamp

Design Summercamp Plan

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