Other Image-using projects

14 other image-using projects

Using images or examining the use of images has been done by various projects. Below we have examined a number of projects in the Netherlands in which images have been used in supporting water management and spatial planning procedures.


Based on this brief examination it appears that using images to show and generate ideas is considered quite important in water management and spatial planning procedures. In the examined projects images are most often produced by professional “‘artists” such as landscape architects, cartoonists, graphic designers, etc. and not as often by the local people who are to use or help maintain the infrastructure. That is the main difference between those projects and our approach.


  WaterTekens     Burgerbeelden Waterkwaliteit
Hollandse Waterstad     SIMWater/LandScape
AquaRO     Inspiratiebundel (for the Water Framework Directive)
Watergame     Blokkendoos (project Ruimte voor de Rivier)
StrateGIS     De Schetsschuit
Rotterdam Zuidelijke Tuinsteden     MindScape
Water in Zicht     Een mooier landschap, maak het mee


  Description Further information




The Water Tekens project encourages focused communication based on knowledge about how people experience water. The project aims to support water managers in communication processes with local people and other parties involved in realisation of changes in the water sytem. This support is realised through:

  • information about how people experience water.
  • analysis and evaluation of new communication forms in which these experiences can be shared and utilised in decision-making.
  • setting up learning communities in which knowledge and experiences can be shared and gained.

The images that are discussed here are categories of iamges which people have of nature.

  • One conclusion about the project is that "maps are a form of expert-jargon. They often include information or representations that are difficult for non-experts to understand"
  • The project emphasizes the importance to decide what communication with others should be about: strategy? tactics? context?
  • Research the ideas of stakeholders could help in learning about how people may judge certain development and thus how they may (or not) support it
  • What people consider to be beautiful about an area, how they feel they are connected to it, how they see nature and what they experience as risks varies from individual to individual. However, they all have something to say about: functionality -- nature (animal and plant type) -- beauty -- risks -- connection between individual and environment.

Hollandse Waterstad 

Hollandse Waterstad is a case study within the Watertekens project. The goals of the project were to research and carry out the planned investments in Gouda’s water system, and to develop and spread knowledge about innovative water management practices in Oudhollandse (old-Dutch) cities.

The research was set up to examine perceptions of inhabitants (mensenwensen) and participating parties about the water system and especially about re-opening of the traditional waterways. Most of these perceptions were gathered via interviews and are displayed in text.

Also, a booklet was made: Beeldverhaal van Gouda als Hollandse Waterstad. The goal of the booklet (as a living-document) was to illustrate which information is available within other knowledge groups, which could help uncover where the information lacunae were. 

  • Maps, photographs, sketches  and drawings were used especially during the inventory-phase of the present and historical situation.
  • The booklet visualises available information mainly on maps and with some (old) photographs, with the intent to serve as a starting point for the consortium members if/when they continue work.
  • A workshop is organised for respondents in which they get to know each other and can exchange ideas. Especially through this interaction it is thought that extra value can be given to the WaterTEKENS research on perceptions.




The AquaRO website was made especially for the municipalities of Nijmegen, Tiel and  West Maas en Waal to provide advice for inclusion of water in spatial development. For other interested in water management and spatial planning the website serves mainly as a source of inspiration and information. Water is seen as a part of the development, to be included in design. With this website designers are encouraged to not only see water as a “material” that could be included, but that should be included at the start of the design process.

The various pages of the website include an encyclopedia of common-used terminology, laws and regulations (local, regional and national), a map of the region in which certain information can be “layered” and calculated (see screen shot on right), other projects that serve as inspiration, and exemplary planning process calculation models.

  • The map material can be used within the mentioned municipalities, calculations are made concerning various factors that have been pre-determined by the participating municipalities.
  • People can request to start a project on the website. This enables them to store acquired information from the maps on the website.
  • The site is mainly meant for designers (architects, urban planners and landscape architects) and can be used by spatial planners, water managers and project developers.




WaterGame is a serious game developed to support interactive planning processes in water and spatial development. The serious game helps bring insight and facilitates the balancing of the interests of all stakeholders.

Through visualisation of the potential spatial development and while keeping the actors and their interests in mind,a shared and supported solution could be designed.

The game visualises the consequences of decisions in terms of water, finance, housing and spatial planning. Because players look at the future development from the same perspective, it is possible to create understanding for each others interests and to create opportunities for synergy in finding solutions.

  • In interactive sessions each player can assume a role and gains access to a virtual world in which specific measures, definitions and actions can be carried through.
  • Indicators (such as spatial quality, finances,etc) appear to show how the player is doing.
  • The game enables players to be confronted with manners in which other actors could act and with external factors such as climate change. Players learn about possible measures without being directly bound to them (as in real-life).
  • Players’ decisions and actions are reviewed by and discussed with, for example, a jury of experts. The discussion makes it possible to learn from the Watergame activities, which could help in formulating future policies in non-virtual situations.
  • The game is situation specific, with a number of pre-calculated measures made possible.
  • The game can be played in cooperation of RO2 since they also lead the interactive sessions. 





The Gebiedsontwikkelaar (literally translated: area developer) is a computer software program constructed by the StrateGIS Groep. With this programme spatial planning plans and concept designs can be visualised. The effect of these ideas on costs, benefits, land use, property exploitation, etc. are then calculated and also shown.

In interactive sessions, the programme can be used to collectively develop spatial planning and development programmes. Outside of the sessions the programme can serve as an information platform for project partners to communicate with each other.

  • The programme makes use of a drawing interface (based on Google Sketchup) to enable participants to draw in and adjust buildings and other real-estate.
  • Digital maps of the area are used in the model (from aerial pictures and Google Earth)
  • The maps can be displayed in 3D
  • Use of the software does not necessarily require more than basic computer skills.
  • The sessions are interactive, but the possibilities for redevelopment are finite since they have been pre-programmed.
  • The programme can be used in cooperation with StrateGIS, since they also lead the accompanying interactive sessions.
Rotterdam Zuidelijke Tuinsteden

The neighbourhoods of Zuidwijk and Lombardijen of Rotterdam were subject to renovation and redesign. In the plan, the municipality of Rotterdam would like to put more focus on incorporating water in the new plans.

Three scenario’s were developed by the landscape architects based on five design sessions: a 0-scenario ( keep going as planned), an ambitious-scenario (restructuring according to the water plans), a daring-scenario (Plantation South).

Especially in this last scenario, the character of other waterways in Rotterdam would be incorporated; water and new construction would be incorporated in the present infrastructure; water recreation possibilities; etc. These scenario’s were sketched while a cost-benefit analysis was carried out. The sketching-and calculating at the same time made it possible for the designers to think while seeing and while learning what the effect of certain ideas could be.

  • The sketching done by landscape architects
  • Combining sketching and calculating was considered very useful. The method gave insight in which parties saw advantages or disadvantages in the various scenario’s (or elements thereof)
  • The combination also sped up the rate at which the entire process took place because experts were included at an early phase and were able to walk-through the entire process.

Water in Zicht




The water-in-zicht website gives an overview of various projects that approach urban water management from a wide spectrum of subjects and offer directions in which to find solutions. All of these projects are considered innovative in how they integrate technology and design. The examples show that through integration of design, natural functions and technology, ideas can be developed which result in an attractive environment and which are “climate-proof.”

Visitors to the website explore the projects by clicking on photographs or by clicking a location on a satellite picture powered by Google-earth. Further details of the projects are given mainly through use of photographs and sketches, but with includes textual information.

  • A lot of the same information has been printed in a Dutch book called: “ Vorm geven aan stedelijk water, synergie van natuur, techniek en esthetiek” authors: Hiltrud Pötz, Pierre Bleuzé, Sun, 2010.
  • The chosen projects (their photos and descriptions) serve as inspiration by showing what is possible in integration of design, nature and technology to realise attractive surroundings.
Burgerbeelden Waterkwaliteit

How do local people experience water and water quality? What can policy-makers learn from these experiences?

These are two questions that the project Burgerbeelden Waterkwaliteit (literally translated: the public’s images of water quality) aimed to focus on.  The Water Affairs Directorate-General of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management wanted to know what lay-people found important.

A survey was held and focus groups came together to gather information and advice about what to incorporate the into new water plans. At the same time the policy-makers learnt from the public how best to approach them to include them. This last topic was especially of interest with upcoming implementation of Water Framework Directive (WFD) measures.

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  • 5 perspectives from which the public (generally) sees water were defined: for fun (spontaneous and dynamic), for relaxation, from a sociable perspective, from an entrepreneurial perspective and from a cautious perspective.
  • The research showed that the public makes use of water in different manners. They want to be informed in different manners and vary in how they would like to be involved by the government in water issues. This is essential to be aware of in communication processes.
  • Water evokes storytelling: in communication to the public about water it was therefore recommended to make use of quotes and stories which fit the “language” of the public.
  • Public participation brings insight in the social context of a policy issue, which decision-makers should utilize and represent.



In 2005, Robert de Waard defended his PhD thesis at the TU Eindhoven. The topic of his thesis was SIMLandscape,  “Simlandscape is a methodological toolbox for land use planning. It includes research and development, evaluation and monitoring of panoramic land use scenarios.
It is designed to accommodate future research and interactive scenario development (explorative interactive planning) on a local and regional scale. The toolbox is based on an ontological transformation model of how landscape changes.

Key elements are that Simlandscape is parcel based and actor and object orientated. The innovative aspects of Simlandscape have to do with the effect of the key elements of the model – an integration of land property and –exploitation in a landscape layer model in combination with a cadastral data model - for the comprehensiveness of the tool with respect to research activities, plan phases, qualities and stakeholders.” 

  • The model was first mainly physical “table” (as shown on the right), however, the simulation has also been digitalised and now makes use of interactive whiteboards (see picture at top right) or interactive computer tables.
  • Extensions of the simulation model are also now available: SimWaterscape and SimAirscape. These make it possible to include indicators which are relevant for the watertoets and use of energy and CO2-emission in the strategic planning process.
  • In SimWaterscape, the hydrological calculation process has not completely been integrated into the direct simulation. However, including water in scenarios has already been experienced as being extremely valuable in the exploration phase of the planning procedures.
  • The interactive whiteboards and tables make it possible for groups of people to work together in scenario development and testing.

The Hoogheemraadschap(water board) van Delfland developed a 19 page inspirational booklet which shows ideas of how the Water Framework Directive measures could be implemented.

In the booklet photos of the present situations are laid next to retouched photos which show possible adjustments. The adjustments are suitable to help reach the new water quality requirements as proposed by the Water Framework Directive.
The focus of the booklet is mainly on nature friendly adjustments of embankments in the Delfland area.

  • In order to improve the ecological quality of the water, suggestions are made for adjustments in the cities and  in the green house areas.
  • The sketches and adjusted photos show a few possibilities for redesign of the waterway, or the land next to the water or the zone where water and used land meets.
  • The sketches are concepts of how the ecological quality of the water can be reached. The actual implementation is dependent on the actual situation.

The “blokkendoos” is an interactive digital instrument developed by Delft Hydraulics (now Deltares) for Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. With this instrument the effect of selected measures on the water level are displayed and effects of water level changes on nature, spatial quality, costs, etc. are monitored.

The many (aerial) photographs and artist impressions of proposed measures make it possible for decision-makers to gain an idea of the effects of a measure. There are links to digital maps so that the effect of measures on certain locations can be visualised as well.

Through use of the instrument, water planners can quickly gain insight in possible effects of certain measures. However, eventually other programmes or instruments may be required to see the collective effect of various measures on the water system.

  •  All hydraulic and morphological effects have already been programmed into the simulation model. The blokkendoos itself, therefore, is not a calculation programme, instead it makes it possible for people to view possible effects without having to understand the more complicated calculation models.
  • A paper; IJssel maatregelenboek  was developed to show the possible measures for widening the Ijssel river which were included in the Blokkendoos. It can be found via this link.
De Schetsschuit

The Schetsschuit (literally, the sketch barge) is an interactive method which brings experts and the public together to work on further development of an area. It was designed by the Dienst Landelijk Gebied (Government Service for Land and Water Management).

The method helps integrate ideas from various disciplines and to bring these ideas onto paper. Decision-makers and involved parties can then use the sketched ideas to make actual decisions about development activities in the area that is being discussed.

In the interactive sessions (at the exploratory phase of design study) parties come together and are split into smaller groups to work out certain ideas. They use maps to sketch their ideas on, and some ideas are worked out by a cartoonist or landscape architect. The resulting ideas then become part of an advisory report which is sent to the responsible decision-makers (mayor,aldermen, etc.) to use. 

  • The sessions take place a 2-3 day design “studio” which is led by specialists in process and spatial management.
  • The focus is on achieving an integral spatial plan for an area. This means that each schetschuit is adjusted according to the area that is being discussed.
  • The sessions are made up of: field visits, the sketching of components of the spatial properties in the area from perspective of culture, recreation, nature, etc, and development of projects or teams to realise certain developments in the area.
  • In order to realise (parts of) the presented ideas, there must, however, be a willingness to find and implement solutions in a broader spectrum than that is customary since the ideas come from parties who are normally not directly involved in decision-making.




Lecturers of Tuin- en landschapsinrichting of Van Hall Larentein in Velp developed a method in order to visualise and map how a group experiences or sees a landscape. Through use of the MindScape, local people can be involved and participate in spatial planning processes.  Rather than mapping individual’s ideas, MindScape makes it possible to map the collective ideas of a community.

MindScape requires use of colours and symbols that represent, for example, certain features in a landscape. Things that the community has indicated that they find important are taken into account and put together to create a cartoon-like image of the landscape. In this manner an entire picture is created of planned or envisioned developments, which are easier for community-members to respond to than to only ad hoc development plans.

  • One example in which MindScape was used, is in the town of De Vecht (2009) 
  • The town map serves as a map in which important, visible structures are portrayed (such as the churches). It also makes it possible to visualise and point out other not-so-obvious structures that are of (cultural) importance to the community, such as important (but not obvious) landmarks (such as trees) or dangerous crossings.
  • Students analysed what feature the community considered important, based on interviews they had held with community members.
  • Results of the analysis are portrayed in the MindScape map, symbols appear to have been made by one artist.
  • The map helps show aspects and elements which would have been impossible to uncover in interviews alone. For example, in De Vecht, the community sees their town as stretching between the highway on the east and Twello in the west, which is not the case on the real map.

Een mooier landschap, maak het mee


43 organisations (under the Ducth Landschapsmanifest) initiated a 3-year long Dutch campaign: “A more beautiful landscape, experience it.” The idea behind this campaign was to involve the Dutch in their surroundings so that they will want to contribute to its development and maintenance.

According to a research done by the Landbouw Economisch Instituut (LEI) the Dutch feel that the country is losing aspects of its cultural landscape as a result of these cultural aspects losing their economic values. To help the Dutch re-experience the country side, the campaign stimulates participation in various nature, cultural and ecological activities which take place regularly across the country. However, the campaign says to also aims to stimulate community involvement in spatial planning.

  • On the website there is an activities calendar for all 12 provinces
  • The campaign has indicated 8 different landscapes that exist in the Netherlands, explaining their characteristics and origin.
  • The advertising campaign itself makes use of an idea in which people could “sticker” elements into the landscape (as seen to the right). The idea behind this is to question people how they experience the landscape, making it possible to place themselves in it. “As a citizen you have influence on the landscape and you chose how you experience it.”
  • From the website, however, how precisely people are involved in spatial planning is not very clear. It appears this is possible if such an activity has been placed on the on-line calendar (maybe initiated by provinces, or municipalities, or ...).