Afsluitdijk Exhibition/Visitor Centre

Merit Award

The Afsluitdijk (“Closure Dike”) is a major dike that runs across the former Zuiderzee saltwater inlet in the Netherands and links the western and northern regions of the country. Built between 1927 and 1933, the 32-kilometer megadike represents an important event in the country’s history and is considered a work of art.

In 2007, Holland celebrated the Afsluitdijk’s 75th anniversary and a new visitor center was opened to honor its history and provide information about its socioeconomic and environmental impacts. The design team had only six months to design and implement the components of the exhibition.

Exhibits inside the 200-sq.-meter visitor center were designed to be self-curating, as no guides or security staff are available during operation. The 2D3D team created 10 monolithic displays using rounded, ceramic-tiled forms inspired by the shape of the dike. The displays incorporate illustrations, diagrams, large-scale photos, films, interactives, digital games, and text covering topics such as the dike’s construction, history, and security; water levels; changing climate; and ecological changes in the sea and lake.

Because the dike itself is 32 kilometers long, the team created three additional information points along its surface. The same rounded, ceramic-tiled monolithic forms (these made of concrete) were created at exterior scale (500x200x40 cm). Fired at one of Holland’s celebrated tileworks, the glazed tiles are durable and the forms’ rounded edges recall the dike’s shape and can withstand extreme weather conditions. A 600x600 cm tiled map alongside the dike provides a geographic perspective.

Jury Comments: 

“Simple, quirky, and playful shapes that, in plan, resemble a collection of shapes one might find in a children’s game. The daring use of ceramic tile at times could potentially make the installation a bit cold and sterile, but the strength of the graphics and displays provides a successful counterbalance.”

Design Firm: 

2D3D Designers


Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Traffic and Water Management)

Location City: 

Afsluitdijk, Netherlands

Project Area: 

200 square meters

Open Date: 


Photo Credits: 

Jurjen Poels

Design Team: 

Matt van Santvoord (principal in charge), Rene van Raalte, Veerle Vreeke, Anke Sentker, Gerben Starink, Haiko Oosterbaan, Joost Agterberg, Matthijs Coops


Dieben & Meijer Communication (concept and content development) Fabrication Brandwacht en Meijer Exhibits (exhibit construction), Royal Tichelaar Ceramics (tiles), Mansveld (media), Studio America (print), Eurorouting (routing and lettering)



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