Located on the Afsluitdijk, the World Sustainability Centre is an exploration of stewardship, defining the interdependence of humans and habitat. The Centre’s mission focuses on service, education, study and economic development in a continuously changing environment.
While working at and touring the Centre, visitors are encouraged to meet the global community by developing a broader understanding of sustainability. Visitors meet new people, see new work occurring in laboratories, and learn about new developments at the Centre and in the Fryslan region.
Our visit to the Afsluitdijk convinced us that governance of the entire length of the Afsluitdijk is critical to the success of this project. The Centre's length reflects the ambition - experientially, pedagogically, and developmentally. Across the site, stretching 3.9 kilometers, beginning east of Breezanddijk (making use of the vehicular crossover), the Centre begins.
We have sited the Centre on the dike, a decision to imbue the dike with greater creativity and social use. Sustainable practices include reclamation of black and grey water, water recycling, harvesting solar and water energy, and geo-thermal. Reflecting years of sustainable practices in Holland, indigenous vegetation will be planted on the dike.
We envisioned the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution as a metaphorical bridge under which the building structure expresses (and houses) the conflicts that engage people. Expressing both the reality of where visitors are politically in conflict, mediation, disagreement – and where they want to go – in peace, resolution, and human development – is our beginning point.
The site design and landscaping were designed to integrate a sustainable, green wastewater management system, where bio-basins are provided for the filtration of grey water. An active solar panel power grid is sited on the green roof. The roof is planted with grasses and hardy, indigenous plant species. The green roof insulates the building interior, cools the roof and collects rain and snow water for toilets and irrigation.
The organization of the building provides two wings where groups can be sequestered or accommodated in separate zones. There are “bridges” that link the wings: theater, dining commons, roof garden, central garden court, and residential commons (at roof level). The building roof is a promenade offering views of the Potomac Basin and reveals part of the sustainable green building systems.
Development of the site will be sensitive to the use of plantings, recreation and historic interpretation of the region’s cultural history story through way finding and interpretive site features.
The geothermal field will provide the source for heating and cooling. The bio-basin will extend the wetlands and capture grey water, filter and reintroduce recycled water into the land. A bridge traverses the bio-basin/ extended wetlands, linking the building to the water at the southern end of the building site. The environmental systems and practices will be interpreted on site and in the building, and provide a learning and inspirational experience for environmental and human sustainability.