Freedom on the Brouwersdam

Freedom on the Brouwersdam

Beach entrances Brouwersdam

Beach entrances Brouwersdam

Beach entrances Brouwersdam

Beach entrances Brouwersdam

the essence

A sense of freedom

The Brouwersdam, part of the Deltawerken. A bold element, with a primary function of water security. Since the dam was closed in 1971, it became a prime spot for pioneers: here, things could be done that were impossible elsewhere. This carefree mentality is still tangible on the dam.

A broad selection of sports and leisure takes place around the dam, such as sand yachting or kite surfing. It has earned the Brouwersdam the title of “active leisure hotspot”.

But its success has a flipside. The freedom has caused the dam to look cluttered and messy, mainly because of a wilderness of signs, power generators, sea containers and more. And this unique straight and very wide stretch of asphalt invites motorists to press the accelerator, hard and often. Regularly, this causes dangerous situations at the access points, where other people get out of their cars to stroll to the beach. To give the dam a boost, improvement of its outdoor space is key. BoschSlabbers was asked to develop a design for the landscaping of beach access points on the Brouwersdam.

the approach

Manmade and storm proof

The uniqueness of the Brouwersdam is in its duality. There is a clear difference between its seaside and its lakeside. Whereas the lakeside is characterised by green banks, tranquil waters, occasional woodlands and much long-term recreation, the seaside is the place where the elements have free reign. Here, the wind blows endlessly and the waves roll onto the beach and the dam. The view is determined by wide stretches of sand and many miles of asphalt.

The landscaping here has to weather the toughest of circumstances. For example, the violence of wheel loaders that remove sand drifts on the path. Over the course of only one weekend, dunes of over 2 meters in height may appear. In addition, a certain type of holiday guest tends to like damaging things. In other words, materials and street furniture have to be vandalism-resistant and storm and sand proof!

Asphalt, wood and stone; materials that can weather the sea’s violence. The Brouwersdam is a manmade landscape, and amenability is allowed to seep through. Indeed, camouflage is not appropriate: interventions can be visible, efficient and purposeful, and by all means not too tender or romantic. In contrast, nature may do what it will. Dunes and wild sand versus the dam.

the development

Plaza, runway and sleeve

The design is best described as sober and purposeful, but rich in detail. Its further development is mainly about three elements: small plaza, runways and a spatial solution for loose elements.

Small plaza

On the dam, each beach access point announces itself with a small paved plaza, marking the place on the dam where the beach runway begins. Its elevation emphasises this effect, and is also a sound traffic measure. The plazas bring together several functional aspects, such as local information, bike parking, sitting units, waste collection, etcetera. The plazas are paved with ochre-coated asphalt. Apart from the signal that this is where the beach begins, the sandy colour has an additional braking effect on motorist: sand on the road, watch out!


Beach access points are furnished with a runway of concrete slabs that starts at the plazas. The runway has a high kerb along its sides, to guide it towards the beach. This kerb also functions as a sitting element, made of concrete at the top and wooden beams in the middle. The wooden beams are solid enough to withstand the heavy machinery that removes drifting sands from the runway. And in case of damage, it is easily replaceable. The guiding kerb will be mounted with lighting. At its end, near the beach, a shower unit will be placed, to allow people to shower at the end of their visit. At a distance along the runway, several additional features are positioned, connected to the runway with paving of half slabs.

The sleeve

Many activities in the dunes still require the use of sea containers. They belong to the dam and its environment, and signify transience and seasonality. The design suggests the creation a number of sleeves that can be used for all sea containers. These sleeves may also integrate the toilet units in their design.

Apart from beach access, to further improve access to the beach the design includes parking spaces and several connecting routes and passages.

project data

Title: design beach entrances Brouwersdam

Location: Brouwersdam, Zeeland, NL

Size: 5 beach entrances and surroundings, 33 ha

Client: Province of Zuid-Holland

Duration: 2010-2012

Type: Design plan, preliminary design

Image credits: BoschSlabbers

Project code: HT 10-08