In 2010 the DLG (Dutch Service for Land and Water Management) appointed Rietveld Landscape studios to recover one of these bunkers, whose value as a witness to the past is laden with controversial significance: fear and survival, the fight to conquer arable land. With the aim of making Bunker 599 a symbol of the NDW itself, Rietveld Landscape and artist Erik de Lyon came up with a project which is both symbolic and radical. By cutting out and removing a whole section of the cement structure using a diamond-tipped saw, they created an opening right in the middle of the volume and then designed a path with steps down from the upper bank to the bunker and across it, with a boardwalk to the lake in front. Visitors walking down the steps and along the path over the bunker do not feel like men seeking shelter from bombs during the war, but enjoy the sight from the point of view of a spectator who has been permitted to glimpse a past era, now closed forever. Visitors continue their walk past the bomb shelter to a viewpoint where they can contemplate the artificial nature of the lake.
The design interprets architecture by elevating it from the status of historical document to monument, shifting visitors’ attention from the view of an artefact to contemplation and understanding of a work of art.
by Mara Corradi
Design: Rietveld Landscape and Atelier de Lyon
Client: DLG (The Dutch Service for Land and Water Management)
Location: Diefdijk (the Netherlands)
Completion of work: 2010
Photographs: © Atelier de Lyon, Rietveld Landscape