Except Integrated Sustainability
Except Integrated sustainability.
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Multi-disciplinary consulting, innovation and development organization working on advanced sustainability projects around the globe.

Waddenworld UNESCO Experience Center

Project > World Heritage Center Wadden Sea Lauwersoog

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. Following our concept, in 2018 the center was financed with € 29 million and an architectural design was made by Dorte Mandrup. 

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.

Content ambition

  • The center creates  awareness and support for the special qualities of the Wadden Sea.
  • It offers a complete Wadden Sea experience.
  • It has an educational role and showcases innovation and research.
  • It is one of the, if not the most important Wadden Sea center in the Netherlands, connected with the other centers.
  • It directs itself towards the experience of the eastern Wadden Sea, the ecological story, and the outdoor experience of the world heritage site.
  • It  adapts to trends and changing  needs.

Economical ambition

  • The center strengthens the regional economy by 150.000 - 250.000 yearly visitors.
  • It offers a sustainability impuls to the local harbor of Lauwersoog.
  • It widens the tourist season.
  • It operates independently. 

The invisible, visible

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.

Realization  of the project 

More than 15 partners are working together towards realization of the project. In 2018 they found 29 million of financing and last April an architectural design has been chosen, by the Danish architect Dorte Mandrup: 

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Except Integrated Sustainability

Jeroen van der Vlist
Chief Operating Officer (COO)

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Phone   +31 10 7370215


  • Libera Amenta

    Urban Planner, Metabolism & Circularity
  • Mirjam Schmüll

    Urban strategist, process manager
  • Mirjam Snitjer

    Project Assistant