Designing the Netherlands

European languages borrowed a handful of words from Dutch. One of them is polder. A polder is a former seabed which has been turned into earth by means of surrounding it with massive dikes. Dutch people are very skilled in developing them, since they’ve considered polders for more than 150 years as a way to gain new lands and stimulate the economy.

Taking new lands from the sea is not rare. Singapore does so ad infinitum. Gibraltar is another example. The airport of Nagasaki is built over an artificial island_ However,  the scale and the importance of the Netherlands’ polders amuse me, especially since the country is a member of the European Union, the often proudly self-called ultimate bastion of the environmentalism.

Polders, Polders Everywhere

Construction of a cannal in Almere's polder. Picture taken by myself

Construction of a cannal in Almere’s polder. Picture taken by myself

Formerly, the North Sea existed along with the South Sea, which is that kind of bay which goes into the Netherlands and isn’t a sea anymore but a lake. Almost half of its size has been dragged out pretty recently by the polders system. The remaining lake is awaiting the end of the crisis to disappear. The new lands are designed as any other. Cities, forests, agricultural fields, industrial areas, highways, pathways and canals, lots of new canals, are built from scratch.

Money is always the key

The adduced reasons to make polders are economic, though I see some connections between the system of making polders and its subsequent construction sector’s crisis and the construction’s bubbles which have exploded lately in some countries. Besides, though the country is pretty crowded, South Sea area is not known because of tall buildings, which would be an alternative solution to making polders and destroying forever the seabed. I think urbanism is able to provide better solutions.

Sadly, perhaps no matter neither the country nor the sector, money is always the luck and the disgrace of architecture and urbanism. Environmentalism is something we will take care of ultimately, when every other path is closed. That’s true even in the old Europe, which population already spent most of the resources available centuries ago.

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