The esthetical plan and landscape park of the integrated disposal project for category A radioactive waste in Dessel.
With this esthetical plan the client NIRAS, the national agency for radioactive waste and nuclear fuels, will articulate an appealing vision on the architectural and landscape quality of the disposal project. In the esthetical plan this vision is elaborated in words and pictures and it includes recommendations to actually implement this vision.
The level of ambition of NIRAS for the quality of the disposal project is high. Thus, the esthetical plan does not make recommendations only on the appearance of the new buildings, infrastructures and outdoor areas, but also the surrounding landscape is considered an integral part of the disposal project. The landscape is utilized to promote energy systems, recreation and ecology.
In order to make the supply chain for the treatment and storage of the waste readable ‘families’ of buildings are introduced as a guiding principle for the esthetical quality. A family is a group of buildings between which a functional relationship exists. In order to make this relationship visible, the material, and colour of the buildings is the most effective medium. There are three distinct families.
The Landscape around the reclamation project is today an introverted and inaccessible area. It is the result of one development phase after another, which have all left their traces behind. Historically and ecologically interesting landscape relics, open meadows, dense forests and industrial areas can all be found as loose pieces of a puzzle lying beside each other.
The reclamation project will be deployed as a catalyst to transform this landscape over the coming decennia into a coherent heather and fenlands area that will become an important recreational and ecological asset for Dessel and the surrounding area. The heather and fenlands areas will be connected together with publically accessible foot and cycle paths that will branch into existing local recreational networks.
In the north of the planned area is an outstretched field. This field has been intensively fertilized over a number of years. Scraping off the rich top layer would be an expensive undertaking.
A better and more effective option is to cover the ground with a layer of sand. Sand mixed with heather seeds originating from the same planning area. This layer will form the topsoil of the future planting. The rich ground under the top layer will gradually leach away in a natural manner.
Wet sand soils were drained by the digging of trenches. The ground that was excavated from these trenches was used to raise the levels around the trenches. A pattern of trenches and elevations was created. In certain places this system could be restored, not only from an historical viewpoint. With further investigation it could be determined whether these man-made structures could regain their function as water buffer, water purification system or water infiltration zone. Alongside the ecological value, the rabatten also form a component of the economy of the area.
The integrated reclamation project would be added into the landscape as a new layer. It will be characterised by clear and defined lineation of the infrastructure as well as the buildings, forming a contrast with the natural surroundings.
The two reclamation modules will be placed into the landscape like robust beacons. The temporary covering would be developed as a protective shell on which time and the elements cannot take hold. After the temporary covering has been replaced by the permanent cover layer both mounds will rise as hills in the heather and fenland.
The many production forests currently possess little ecological value. They are purely commercial landscapes of monotonous tree populations.
The forests could be made more interesting by allowing a few trees to grow more mature, by careful management with the focus more on aesthetics and by making the edges more ecologically varied.
The small lake in the area is currently inaccessible. It has steep banks and little ecological quality. The area has become overgrown over the years with bushes and the build-up of young trees.
By clearing away this undergrowth the opportunity is created for differentiated bank vegetation. The steep banks should be transformed into gentle banks, the northern flank would become the home of sun basking reptiles.