To answer this question, Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management) has called on parties to help think about this question and come up with innovative ideas. Of all the ideas put forward, five have remained. The five ideas have been presented to the management of Rijkswaterstaat WNN (Rijkswaterstaat in North Holland). One of the ideas has been developed by Port of Amsterdam together with Port of IJmuiden, ORAM (one of the largest business networks in the Amsterdam area), and other partners. Their idea, which can be consulted at this link (in Dutch): Smarter, faster and cleaner through the renovated North Lock, is to keep the North Lock in operation, providing it with an extra lock gate to be able to use it in a smart and more versatile way while the Middle Lock should be taken out of service and the space that would become available should be used for other initiatives.
Port of Amsterdam’s idea
The first thing to realise is that the Middle Lock is much smaller than the North Lock and cannot serve as a back-up for the new sea lock once it has come into operation. We think it is important to have an alternative lock available for emergencies, such as when the new sea lock suffers a breakdown or is under a temporary closure. Because of its smaller size, the Middle Lock is no alternative. That is why Port of Amsterdam would like to keep the North Lock open. In our view, the Middle Lock should be taken out of service and the budget for maintenance of the Middle Lock should be used for maintenance of the North Lock. In addition, the North Lock could be used in a smarter way by providing it with an extra lock gate to create a smaller lock chamber resulting in shorter lockage times for ships. This will not only save time but, importantly, will also reduce the salinisation of the North Sea Canal. The extra lock gate could also serve as part of the public road and this will improve the road network across the locks.
The area on the north side of the North Lock could be used for the development of an industrial estate including quays for a multi-purpose port. An important detail in our plan is the construction of a bicycle bridge across the Binnenspuikanaal which would shorten the route across the locks for cyclists by approximately 1 kilometre. The ideas of the other parties could be used for the Middle Lock when it is taken out of service.
The other ideas
There was a large audience of about 100 people from various backgrounds who brought in their ideas for a new destination for the North Lock. After a second session, five ideas remained. Click on this link: other ideas (in Dutch) to see what other ideas were presented, which include suggestions to use the North Lock to generate energy or to store heat, to use it as a testing laboratory, or for recreational purposes, such as a swimming pool.
What is the next step?
The five remaining ideas have been brought together in what is called a digital ‘harvest magazine’. Click on this link: harvest magazine (in Dutch) to find out what ideas will be presented to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. There will be a new session at the end of this year to hear what 'The Hague' (the seat of the Dutch government) thinks about them. In the meantime, together with our team members and Port of IJmuiden, we are going to work on a more detailed business case for keeping the North Lock open. With the new idea for the North Lock, we are making a positive contribution to the entire North Sea Canal Region and a further improvement to a smooth flow of shipping traffic through the IJmuiden locks.
Focussing on co-creation to develop new ideas
The largest sea lock in the world is currently being built at IJmuiden, the Netherlands. This new lock is scheduled to take over the function of the existing North Lock at the beginning of 2022. According to Rijkswaterstaat, the North Lock could be closed soon after the new lock has taken over its function. The closed North Lock would then only serve as a dike and as a cross-channel public road connection between Velsen and IJmuiden. Rijkswaterstaat, wishing to look at the North Lock and its surrounding area from a different perspective, has invited a diverse group of participants with the aim to arrive at promising ideas that would not have occurred to Rijkswaterstaat alone. That is why it has asked the Dutch Bouwcampus foundation to gather ideas to co-create innovative, sustainable proposals for the future of the North Lock. The Dutch Bouwcampus - see link: Bouwcampus (in Dutch) - is a place where companies, government agencies and research institutes come together in a precompetitive setting to create innovative solutions to issues such as ageing infrastructures.