The Wadden Sea, known for being the largest unbroken system of tidal flats and wetlands on Earth, stretches from Denmark and Germany through the Netherlands. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these coastal wetlands merge with Lauwersmeer National Park to create a rare landscape met by the Dutch village of Lauwersoog. What started out as a favorite casting-off point for local fishermen has since become a popular tourist destination for visitors wanting to experience the iconic landscape. It is also where Danish firm Dorte Mandrup is rounding out its third project on the Wadden Sea, the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center.
“The new Wadden Sea World Heritage Center pays homage to the historic maritime activity in Lauwersoog,” Dorte Mandrup explained. “At the same time, it presents a contemporary expression that enriches the diversity of the buildings in the area.” Along with this project located in the Netherlands, Dorte Mandrup is also the designer of the Wadden Sea Center in Denmark and the Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Center in Germany.
Home to more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, including a range of endangered migratory birds, the ecosystems found inside this region are completely unique. It is also one of the only natural habitats in the Netherlands for native seals.
“Drawing inspiration from the endless cycle of the tide, the gradual spiral-like incline — like the continuous rising and falling of the water surface — offers a stunning 360-degree view of the sea, the Lauwersmeer and the surrounding landscape as visitors ascend through the building,” the firm said. “It almost gives you the feeling of being one with the sea.”
Visiting guests will have a chance to enjoy the views and learn about the Wadden Sea environment at the center, which will also serve as a research hub for students and scientists. One of the most important conservation projects that will take place at the center will be the study and rehabilitation of local rescued seals. The seals will have a home on the second floor of the building, where a large underwater tank gives visitors the chance to view the animals from above and below.
Water-based research will culminate in an outdoor field station and water garden that also serves as a viewing platform and recreation area for both researchers and visitors. Part research base, part museum, the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center will provide an important and delicate intersection for understanding and appreciation between humans and nature.
Images via The Wadden Sea World Heritage Center and Dorte Mandrup