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De Steiger - Artwork Watersnoodmuseum, Ouwerkerk, The Netherlands by Abelen Architectuur

Project name:
De Steiger - Artwork Watersnoodmuseum
Architecture firm:
Abelen Architectuur
Watersnoodmuseum (Flood Museum), Ouwerkerk, The Netherlands
Sandra Schimmelpennink
Principal architect:
Rick Abelen
Design team:
Rick Abelen
Interior design:
Built area:
1 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Abelen Architectuur
Abelen Architectuur
Tools used:
SketchUp, Adobe Photoshop
Abelen Architectuur

Abelen Architectuur designed the artwork Steiger for the Watersnoodmuseum (Flood Museum). The Steiger is an installation that contributes to awareness of climate change and thereby related problems. The artwork shows the consequences if we do too little to slow down climate change.

The Steiger is a demountable bench made of scaffolding tubes that is exhibited in the outdoor area of the museum. The Watersnoodmuseum is located in four caissons in Ouwerkerk – Zeeland (The Netherlands), which were used to close the last flow hole that occurred during the flood of 1953.

The artwork responds to the rising sea level and has a raised seat at a height of 1.5 meters. Research shows that sea levels will rise by up to 1 meter by the end of the 21st century if we do too little to slow climate change. This has major consequences for the world and in particular for the Netherlands, which is largely below sea level.

The bench can withstand the high water level but is unusable because no one can reach the high seat. This fact symbolizes the problems we can expect with rising water levels, as our land will become largely unusable. The blue coating up to a height of 1 meter marks the expected sea level rise until the end of this century.

The Steiger shows a dramatic future perspective, but also looks back at the terrible events during the flood disaster. The unusable bench symbolizes the powerlessness and despair that the disaster brought. At the same time, the high bench provides a perspective on the future. The bench symbolizes a place to think about the future. This makes the artwork a place for reflection.

The artwork tries to visualize the future state of the climate in an accessible way when we take too little action. In this way, the Steiger contributes to the story that the visitor takes away from the museum. It also creates a place for the conversation about our future with water in relation to climate change and sea level rise.

The Steiger was made possible by Stichting Vrienden van het Watersnoodmuseum (Friends of the Flood Museum Foundation).

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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