Together with partners Groningen province, the municipality of De Marne, Staatsbosbeheer and Seal Center Pieterburen, Except developed the concept for the World Heritage Center for the Wadden Sea in Lauwersoog. The concept has the ambition to bring 250.000 new visitors to the region, that will experience and become aware of the intrinsic value of the Wadden Sea and the Lauwersmeer. The center boosts the local economy by generating more visitors and income for the region. It is an international example of sustainability, and its achievements add to its global fame.
The Wadden Sea was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009, and declared the most beautiful natural area of the Netherlands in 2016. The beauty and importance of the area deserve attention, but currently, there is no experience center for the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. A necessity and opportunity for something remarkable.
In tandem with 27 partners from the surrounding region, a vision and sketch concept of the center have been developed over 2016.
The UNESCO World Heritage Center Wadden Seas is the eye of the Wadden Sea, and the epicenter of activities in its surroundings. Here, one experiences what usually stays invisible: from rare water microbes to the landscape gradually taking shape over the centuries. Here, visitors get to feel the passage of time, the birth of new life, life cycles, the power of the water, and the beauty of the diversity in nature.
Visitors experience all this by experiencing themselves: to see, feel and do underneath an open sky. The center adds to these experiences with stories and unique insights. the stories are told by famous and unique people, that attract visitors from afar. Many expedition are offered by local entrepreneurs, and feel like they are part of the same experience.
The center has international fame due to the offer of experience-excursions, as well as its charisma. Visitors will stay for several days to experience the area and the excursions, from audio guided cycle routes to water expedition, and from watching seals in their natural habitat to a dark sky stargazer tour. In the departure lobby, local entrepreneurs offer their expeditions. Intimate stories and puzzle tours surrounding the salt and fresh water nature alternate with boat tours over sea and lake.
Inside the center, the experience takes visitors to the sky by telling stories about the birds, into the Panorama Tower. From there, it goes back into into the soil by using microscopes. One passes animals, the culture, and the history of the area. In the 'Wad hall' visitors get told stories by stakeholders around the Wadden Sea, ranging from technical and innovation stories, to a diverse food market. Meanwhile, a stroll along the boulevard, art projects, diners and restaurants offer their own experiences.
Internationally, the center has an impact on marine research, knowledge, activities and entrepreneurship around and in service to the Wadden Sea.
Inside the Field Station, researchers experiment on sustainability, nature conservation and innovation. It houses international students. Around the center, experiments are being done 'in the wild'. In the High Care facilities world class animal care for wounded and sickly marine animals takes place.
The buildings that form the center are a story by themselves. A central core building offers shelter, heat, and structure. The experiences take place in diverse pavilions surrounding the core, each with their own charisma, designer, and story.
The clever, flexible energy conserving makes sure every year, parts of the building change, and each year, new pavilions are built or adapted. Inside the center, expositions are exchanged with international Wadden Sea Centers in Germany and Denmark, in order to keep offering new experiences.
The center has a positive impact on its surroundings. It offers a permanent boost to the local economy, connects entrepreneurs, and builds a strong regional brand. It stimulates and assists the sustainability goals of the Lauwersoog harbor.
Together with all involved partners, entrepreneurs and initiatives, the center develops into a major Dutch tourist attraction, outside of the Randstad. 15 partners have expressed positive intentions towards each other to make this happen. 2017 has offered more partners a chance to take part in the realization of the center.
Jeroen van der Vlist