The bionic dike is a proposal to reinterpret water safety as 100 percent adaptive. Instead of continuously raising dikes, we suggest a dike landscape that moves with the environment and naturally grows with time. A dike landscape that protects against the brute force of nature and restores the relationship to its surrounding beauty at the same time.

The Grebbedijk has protected Wageningen and the Gelderse Valley against floods since the thirteenth century, but it also blocks its connection and relationship to the river. Since the water levels in the Rhine have risen, high waters form a risk for the entire region. This is sufficient reason to reconsider the logic of the Grebbedijk. Are our rigid dikes the right means to battle our fast-changing climate, and can dikes do more than just hold out water?

The bionic dike forms an answer. It offers protection and space for recreation, economy and agriculture. It slowly grows through the production and harvesting of local willow-biomass. The organic material inside the bionic dike ferments to produce hot water for the city of Wageningen.

In Wageningen the dike moves with the water. In low tides it is open, and in high tide the pressure of the water is used to let the dike ascend and protect the city. Wageningen can now attain an unprecedented wide panorama on the Rhine. The city finally profits from its beautiful location in between ‘de Veluwe’, ‘het Binnenveld’ and the river Rhine, while remaining safe.

  • Name: Bionic Dike
  • Location: Grebbedijk, Wageningen (NL)
  • Program: Dike, leisure harbour
  • Size: 1 Km. of dike
  • Commission: Research, vision, SO
  • Period: 2015
  • Client: The Ministry of Infrastructure and the environment, municipalty of Wageningen
  • Team: Jan Lebbink, Gert Kwekkeboom, Rick ten Doeschate, Ingrid van der Heijden, Angela Solis, Fernanda Romeu, Francesco Strada
  • Partners: Lola Landscape Architects
  • Images: Civic Architects, Lola Landscape Architects

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