On the south side of the island of Van Brienenoord in the Maas Rivier in Rotterdam, NEXT architects and H+N+S landscape architects have designed the first point in the Maaspoints series: special places along the Maas to strengthen the relationship between city and river and between people and nature. Water Woods, the first viewing point in the series, is designed as a forest of steel pipes that together form a contrast: the stairs going up lead to a panoramic view over the river and the skyline of Rotterdam, the stairs going down bring the visitor in close contact with the specific cyclical tides of the water.
The Maas is an important river for the city of Rotterdam. It connects the city with the port, the sea, Europe, and the rest of the world. The river forms the connection between north and south and separates the neighbourhoods of the city. The Maaspoints are specifically designed to strengthen the relationship between the city’s residents and the river and stand as powerful symbols for the wider vision of the tidal park. Although each Maaspoint has its own theme (from ecology to sports and recreation), all Maaspoints share similarities in structure and concept, forming a network along the Maas. Water Woods specifically emphasises the unique biodiversity of the Maas. This becomes clearly visible for its visitors by the various integrated breeding and nesting sites.
Water Woods allows visitors to experience the Maas in a unique way. On the one hand, the river is put in a wider perspective by the unique panoramic view; the location in relation to the Rotterdam skyline, the passing boats, and the connection with the harbour and the water as a whole. On the other hand, an experience in detail is offered. The specific cyclical ecology of the water can be seen up close, as well as the wonderful world of local aquatic flora and fauna.
Water Woods is inspired by the city of Rotterdam: the concept, construction, architecture, and ecological function derive directly from the specific characteristics of the island of Van Brienenoord, where the construction is built. The corten steel pipes used to build Water Woods are commonly used in the area and refer directly to the industrial tradition of the port of Rotterdam. The construction consists of 24 steel posts with a diameter of 600 mm, which are often used as mooring posts. Of these, 16 are in the water and eight on the quay. Six of the piles are load-bearing piles, the other piles are perforated with recesses for local flora and fauna.
Water Woods is nature-inclusive: the structure provides shelter for the local Delta nature. The structure is designed to allow visitors to experience the tidal currents and discover unique delta species, such as the spider marsh marigold and freshwater mussels that use the structure’s steel pipes as habitats. Birds and bats also have a place in Water Woods and can breed and nest at the top of the pipes.