IJssel River Basin, Gelderland/Overijssel, The Netherlands

A natural river is a contextual object. It is embedded within its longitudinal valleys, connected to its lateral tributaries. Transmission of sediments and seeds, translation of species, transformation of habitats. The Dutch historical engineering perspective on the river has led to a systemic normalization and disconnection of the river and its riverine territory, through the placement of water management objects and structures, clearing it from its context. It is lineated, highly adapted to its functionalities to inland waterway transport and flood safety.The current approach in riverine climate adaptation strategies aims to accommodate all functionalities of rivers into one singular riverbed, but runs into the limitations of an integrated spatial system. The different functionalities of rivers, i.e. the riverine regimes of navigation, flood control, eco-hydrology and drought management, in synchronization will lead to a decline in performance of these separate regimes. Through the process of decomposition and parallelization of the riverine territory, the most stringent spatial demands of the separate socio-technical regimes have been identified, and translated into demands and principles which emphasize the character of the singular regimes. The synthesis of the regimes into two parallel and complementary systems within the larger integrative design framework is allowed by extending the demarcation of riverine territory. This opens up the possibility of spatial segregation rather than spatial integration within the singular riverbed, in order to optimize the performance of the system as a whole instead of compromising functionality on different scale levels. The methodology of decomposing and reassembling shows promising signs in relation to the evaluation of current spatially integrative practices, which can aid in widening solution space much needed in riverine climate adaptation strategies. If the problem description and mission statements of the integral river are expanded, the space considered in which the solution should be realized has to be extended simultaneously, as only through separation of opposing systems an increase of functionality on all fronts can be realised.

This territorial project argues that spatial segregation in parallel systems throughout a larger territory, offers a widening of solution space much needed within the integral approach. It explores and illustrates an alternative future for the IJssel in which an integral approach is paramount, but with a methodology built on spatial decomposition as a deliberate step towards a more conscious integration. Within this integrative design concept, the conscious demarcation of space is found to be of vital importance. Therefore, the project illustrates how an integrative design perspectives through the scales of territories, landscapes and objects can provide a spatial argumentation in favour of the narrative. A separated system to obtain an integral solution.

(thesis under conclusion)