Krijn Giezen, Schuilhutten (Bird-watching Huts) (1977-1979)
Giezen’s design consisted of two huts for the Harderbroek nature reserve near Zeewolde: a reception hut near the entrance and an observation hut deeper into the reserve. He intended to build both huts exclusively from materials taken from the immediate surroundings: reeds and twigs. The huts were intended to be as ‘natural’ as possible, so as to blend in with the landscape. They would have a limited lifespan as they would wither away over time.
In 1976, the then Dutch Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Social Work set up the art project Beelden Buiten ’76 in order to endow the public space of Flevoland with works of art. Twenty-five young artists were asked to submit a design. Eventually, two submissions were selected to be executed: Piet Slegers’s Aardzee (Earth Sea, 1982) and Krijn Giezen’s Schuilhutten (1977–1979).
The IJsselmeer Polders Development Authority (IPDA), which supervised the project, was opposed to this radical concept and wanted a more durable work of art. Eventually, in 1979, the huts were built, but with a wooden framework. The construction was more solid than originally intended, but otherwise the materials were still close to Giezen’s original plans, i.e., reeds gathered on site and materials from the IPDA workshop. The observation hut is covered with reed sheaves. Giezen did not use the more common method of thatching in layers, but gathered the reeds into sheaves, because that is how reeds are usually processed on the land. For building the huts, he took his cue from the surroundings and the characteristics of the site. From the reception hut, visitors are guided to the observation hut on the dike via a path that cuts right through the nature reserve. At the end of the path, they walk behind a screen of reeds so as not to scare off the birds. From this second hut, they can survey the whole area.
In 1982, the Forestry Commission took over the management of this work of art. Over the years, the huts have been reinforced to prevent dilapidation. Although they still look very natural and the reinforcements are hardly visible, almost nothing is left of the initial idea behind them. The huts can only be visited by appointment and accompanied by the forester.
Rising sea level
Krijn Giezen developed another work in the province for the temporary art project ARTificial NATURAL NETWORKS (2000–2001) organised by De Verbeelding. If Zeewolde were still sea today, Richard Serra’s Sea Level would now be under water. The sea level is still rising, whereas the land is subsiding due to the extraction of natural gas. This issue, which is even more problematic for land below the sea level, prompted Krijn Giezen to design his Amfibische Verblijfplek (2001) for Zeewolde. In 2001, this amphibious dwelling was temporarily floated on the pond of the pavilion of De Verbeelding. The construction was mobile; the dwelling had wheels to be used on land and was designed to float on water. It is a more flexible way of dealing with rising water than draining the land, and it anticipates the changes in the polder.
Krijn Giezen mostly uses existing materials for his constructions, often taken from the immediate surroundings. He draws his inspiration from the site, both for the concept and for its elaboration. Many of his works are – or could be – functional and offer alternatives to accepted solutions. For example, he once built an organic sound barrier from building waste and compost (1991). For the competition Tijdelijk Wonen (1985) in Almere, he designed his Broeiwoning (Hothouse), a house with four rooms. The plants growing in one part of the house feed the heated compost heap in another part; the heat generated by the compost is used to heat the separate living space. The plan was never executed in Almere, but a few years later, in 1993, it was realised in Cronesteyn Polder Park in Leiden.
For the Amfibische Verblijfplek (2001), Giezen once again drew the inspiration for his materials from the natural surroundings. The trees in the woods around Zeewolde supplied the basic form: //You start from a tree trunk, the archetype of the wheel, rolling, of floating, and –
hollowed out – of the boat. Several logs together make a surface, a floor you can stand on or a roof over your head, and that can be used, be given a function, both on land and on water, possibly by adding other materials. It is not a “this is art” work, not an obstacle. No material is wasted.//
1 In the context of the project ‘Beelden Buiten’ (1976), organised by the Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Social Work and the IJsselmeer Polders Development Authority.
2 A visitor’s impression can be found in: Evelien Vermeulen, ‘Konijnevellen naast de soeppan’, Metropolis M 2 (1981) 3, pp. 44-47.
3 Albrandswaard, port of Rotterdam
4 Krijn Giezen, ‘Martina in gesprek met Krijn Giezen’, in: KUNSTmatige NATUURLIJKE NETWERKEN, Zeewolde 2001.
Krijn Giezen, Schuilhutten (Bird-watching Huts)
Schuilhutten (Bird-watching Huts, 1977–1979)
Two parts, approx. 5.5 x 6 x 6 m (reception hut), approx. 5 x 3 x 9 m (observation hut)
Location: Zeewolde, Harderbroek polder
Forestry Commission Collection
Amfibische verblijfplek (Amphibious Dwelling, 2000–2001)
De Verbeelding Collection