Creating landscapes in the Wadden Sea

Leeuwarden,NL | June 2018

Joint project with Erika Muscat

//Competition entered for the festival Sense of Place, held each year in the North of the Netherland. (Winners yet to be announced)//

The aim was to create an architectural landscape that highlights the ever changing nature of the site. When on water the structure mimics and follows the movements of the water, allowing visitors to experience the shifting sea. When the tide is high the structures create a changeable platform that moves with water. When the tide is low, the structures are strewn on the ground, every time in a slightly different position, creating a landscape of static objects.

Building with water

To construct something harmonious in the Wadden Sea landscape, we made a literal interpretation of the mission statement building with water and decided to research the possibilities of water, its properties and as a building element.


In order to create a new experience on water for people - both familiar and new to the Wadden Sea - we looked into the different movements of the water. We found that water moves both as entity and divided parts, it comes together and breaks apart, solidifies and is made fluent again. The changing nature of the very molecular structure of water inspired the shape of the structure.


While the landscape of the Wadden Sea has a temporal nature, we were interested in the experience of the changing tide. By adding a network of structures that are shaped and moved by the sea, we add something new to the landscape, an indication of the changeable landscape even when the water is gone. The structures express the chaos left behind by the sea but also the possiblities of a new structure.

Shape developement

In the process we explored the possibility of emulating water and how to express something fluid in a solid form. Inspired by ice blocks on the Wadden sea, we wanted the shapes to be able to crash into each other, move with the water and be drawn back in by visitors. By attaching elements together in a loose net and by using slightly rounded corners, the elements put together also allows for a slightly shattered whole, still connected to the sea through the holes created.

Ship design

The imagery of abandoned ships inspired us because of the nature of the ship - activated by water, in balance when in water but made unstable without it. We found the imagery of ships to be powerful in both it ubiquitous shape and the many features of ship design useful to our project. We wanted the final shape to be reminiscent of the hull of ships, but solid rather than hollow, and made of simpler, lighter parts, to allow the shapes to arrange themselves in different constellations.


For the objects to be durable and inviting we decided on a varnished and patterned wood finish, tied together by slim ropes drawn through pocket rails along the edges of the platforms.

The outside edges of the ‘square’ - the shape of the objects puzzled together - is trimmed by a brass lining. This trim tells a story about the shape as a whole and as parts, and also creates interesting shapes to the low tide landscapes.


2020 Copyright — Solène Thierry