Water Board Rijn en IJssel

The new building of the Rijn en IJssel Water Board in Doetinchem was completed in 2008. To tie in with the transparent architecture, Nico Wissing has created a design for a landscaped park-like garden which not only does full justice to the building, but which also enhances the wellbeing of both staff of the Water Board and future visitors. On a site of approx. 2.6 hectares, there is space for art, outdoor workstations, paved seating areas, water and subtly-camouflaged parking spaces. This landscape park has also been produced according to the cradle 2 cradle principle, which means that use is exclusively made of materials that are either biodegradable or can be 100% used as a raw material for a new product (so-called ‘upcycling’). The choices include loam, sand, gravel, steel and clay.


The design of the parkland garden is characterised by its organic lines and its natural integration into the surrounding area. By introducing height variations, an undulating site has been created that emphasises the organic shape of the building. Add to this the work of art, in which the pages as it were fan out across the park, and you have a basic structure with natural shapes.

For Nico Wissing, optimum interaction with the green environment is an essential element. The office space is linked directly to the outdoor space in that the glass facade extends right down to ground level. As a result, offices are as it were absorbed by nature, and you can imagine your workstation as being embedded in the surrounding greenery. The indoor planting has a grass-like character, emphasising the interaction between indoor and outdoor environments. In addition, the materials employed inside are also used out of doors in pedestrian bridges, outdoor seating and (solar-powered) lighting.

At the back of the building, a more enclosed atmosphere has been created with space for outdoor workstations, calm and contemplation. The pond reflects light into the building resulting in a serene and relaxed atmosphere for work and conferences, with plenty of room for the imagination.

To further enhance the natural feeling, disruptive elements, such as the view across the car park, are partially concealed from view by the semi-sunk positioning of the parking spaces, which are subsequently camouflaged with a curved green wall. Provisions have been positioned throughout the site, allowing the staff and visitors to stroll, sit or otherwise pass their leisure time.

As concerns the selection of planting, the preferred choice focuses on representative, flowering species at points directly adjacent to the building. The main entrance certainly needs to be made inviting. The degree of formality lessens as you move from the building: flowering plants gradually give way to more natural, indigenous species thereby slowly establishing an ecological link with the surrounding greenery.

The semi-paved and natural pedestrian paths, combined with steel boundary elements, have a natural but simultaneously contemporary look thanks to the choice of material. These paths in the landscaped park link up with the course of the Oude IJssel river and the cycle path to the town, as well as joining the De Huet residential district.

All in all, the design means that the park-like garden and building harmonise smoothly, creating a pleasant atmosphere for both users and visitors.