Location: Gorinchem fortress, The Netherlands
Status: Inspirational document for the integral dike enforcement of the fortress of Gorinchem
Client: Municipality of Gorinchem, Province South-Holland, Water board Rivierenland

The fort Gorinchem has, next to the (historic) function of a military fortress, the function of flood defence and is part of dike ring 16 and of the Old and New Dutch Water Line. While in the past the military function of the fort was the most dominant for the design of the walls, the function of flood defence became more and more guiding for the shape of the fort over time. During this transition, most of the characteristics of the historic profile of the historic fortress got lost.

In the ‘fortress plan Gorinchem’ (‘vestingplan Gorinchem’) the wish to recover the historic profile has been expressed. The recognisability of cultural-historically valuable elements of the fortress becomes especially important with the UNESCO nomination of the New Dutch Waterline, of which Gorinchem is part of. But how to recover the historically valuable elements of the fort with the additional dike enforcements needed in the future?

To answer this question, Defacto did a research-by-design exploration, commissioned by the Municipality of Gorinchem, the Province South-Holland and the Water board Rivierenland. During integral work sessions with experts, different possibilities for the dike enforcement in relation to the cultural historic profile of the fort have been explored. The possible profiles vary from the reconstruction of the historic fort, the reference to the historic situation in selected places to the expression of the currently dominant function of flood defence.

This inspirational document stands in the beginning of the whole dike enforcement trajectory and is a first step towards an integral approach.