In the summer of 2018, the climate crisis made itself felt in the Netherlands. Not only by an excess of water, but also by freshwater shortages. To many, this came as a surprise. Our entire delta has been designed to discharge water as quickly and efficiently as possible with an eye to water safety.

The dry hot summer of 2018

source: NOS

Drought in the Delta
We live in a delta where climate change now confronts us with new problems. In 2018, it took a great deal of effort to keep the Dutch water machine up and running, but two more dry summers followed. Some areas have not recovered from the drought, and there is likely to be permanent damage, both to urban and to wildlife and agricultural areas.
For hundreds of years, the Dutch have been making ever smarter arrangements to drain water as quickly and efficiently as possible with an eye to water safety and agricultural productivity. But how to store water in order to be able to use it when we need it is an unexpected quandary. That we, like no other people, know how to handle water is no longer self-evident.
Drought in the Delta is a new challenge that in 2018 prompted the IABR to start an investigation into opportunities and frameworks for the large-scale storage of freshwater, both aboveground and underground. The IABR–Atelier Drought in the Delta was set up and since 2019 its lead designer Marco Vermeulen and his SMV-team mapped the situation and explored possibilities for increasing the delta's water buffering capacity and the opportunities that this would create, also for other transition challenges such as the energy transition, food production and urbanization.

ten potential pilot projects

© IABR, Studio Marco Vermeulen

Building blocks for a new freshwater strategy
The final goal of the IABR–Atelier is to propose concrete building blocks for a new freshwater strategy for 2050, and to identify possible pilot projects. The Atelier wants to design a stimulating imagination of the future, but it is at least as important that local or regional governments will be able to use the outcomes of the research to work on their own challenges.

The results of the Atelier are presented in the exhibition DOWN TO EARTH: DROUGHT IN THE DELTA

The IABR–Atelier Drought in the Delta is a study by the IABR that is being conducted by Studio Marco Vermeulen under the direction of Marco Vermeulen.

Drought in the Delta is part of our agenda Water as Leverage, in addition to Energy Transition as Leverage a common thread in the IABR–DOWN TO EARTH program in 2020 and 2021.

IABR initiates and produces the IABR–Ateliers in the Netherlands as a lead partner of the Dutch National Government within the framework of the ARO, the Action Agenda for Spatial Design 2017–2020 of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.