Water activities under flyover A8

The urban intervention in Koog ann de Zaan is the water design of an public area for people to do certain kinds of water activities, such as kayaking and pedal boats. This intervention is very special, as it is constructed under the A8 Highway, which the area was originally unused. The water design is a part of the urban renewal project named A8ernA, which aimed to regenerate a vacant and problematic area under the highway that was constructed in the 1970s and divided the small city Koog ann de Zaan in two parts in Zaanstad. The purposes of this intervention and the whole A8erna project are also to restore the connections between the both sides of Koog ann de Zaan, in order to enhance social inclusion, as well as renew the unoccupied area, which has been disregarded for around 30 years. The idea of the “pool” is in fact, came from the local communities, because designers and local authorities have consulted residents, local retailers and youths for advices to the A8erna project. As it is within a urban renewal projects, its surrounding urban elements are also newly constructed social facilities, such as supermarket, skate park, graffiti gallery, breakdance stage and parking spaces for 120 cars.

The water design and the whole A8ernA project are funded by the municipality of Gemeente Zaanstad (the government) and designed by the NL architects from Netherlands, which caused €2,700,000 in total, as there is no data for the single intervention. Its construction was completed in 2006 and it is now extremely successful and actively used as a public area, which the project also won the 2006 European Prize for Urban Public Space Award. The ‘pool’ attracts a significant number of people including the local community as well as tourists to visit, as on one hand, it expands the urban public spaces of the area, to promote social activities; while on the other hand, it invites the local community to participate in the planning process, which has made the project a very democratic action that will definitely gain a lot of support of the local people, The urban intervention has made the area under the highway and the whole of Koog aan de Zaan a more dynamic and diverse urban space and offers social opportunities and solutions to exclusion between the two sides of the city. The gimmick of the water designs can also create a landmark for it.

*More images: http://www.architonic.com/aisht/a8erna-nl-architects/5100103*