Tracy Metz: Sweet&Salt - Designing for Water in the Low Countries

Wednesday, October 3rd 5PM Room 3-133

Sponsored by CDD + EPP 


The landscape of the Netherlands is undergoing an ‘extreme makeover’ as the Dutch reinvent their relationship to water. Under pressure of the changing climate, the country that fashioned its landscape so distinctly in order to keep water out, is now adjusting its centuries-old strategy of self-defense: it is letting the water back in. ‘Building with nature’ is the new credo of Dutch water management. Has Hans Brinker pulled his finger out of the dike?


In her book Sweet&Salt: Water and the Dutch, American-born journalist and author Tracy Metz describes the impact of water on Dutch culture, economy and landscape and explores 21st-century global water challenges and state-of-the-art solutions. The engineering of dikes and polders has created a landscape as a cultural and technological product on a scale unique in the world. Now integrated water infrastructure such as dikes, new river bypasses, floating structures and flexible planning processes are reshaping it. Engineers and designers are learning to speak each others’ language.


Developing a flexible and adaptive relationship to water is one of the greatest global challenges of our time and our future. The knowledge and technology which the Netherlands have developed in order to live with water are an inspiration to other countries where climate change is increasing the threat of both flooding and drought. Sweet&Salt looks not only at the Netherlands, but also at other places in the world that are confronting similar challenges, such as New Orleans, New York, Hamburg, Vietnam and China.


 Author Tracy Metz writes for the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad and is an international correspondent for Architectural Record. In 2007-’08 she was invited to be a member of the Delta Commission, created to advise government on water safety in the Netherlands in the coming one to two centuries. She was previously a guest scholar at the Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research and a member of the Council for Rural Areas, the independent advisory board to the ministry of Nature & Agriculture. www.tracymetz.com/.