the west brabantse water defence line was built in 1627 by the states of zeeland and zuid-holland. over the course of its tumultuous history it has served the dutch as a defensive stronghold to protect the region’s valuable trade position. it has seen and staid many assaults over the years, but in a recent spell of peace it has been converted into a more communal public landscape — largely with the aid of a new observation tower by RO&AD architecten. the tower serves the public almost as an arena, with the inward facing side completely open, and the side facing the river with tiny slits with chance movements to view the landscape. it looks almost like a siege tower or a 18th century fortress.

RO AD tower netherlands
all images by katja effting



according to RO&AD, the tower was constructed without the use of drawings, with the design team instead relying on a 3D model. with the use of this model, and a bevy of already prefabricated parts, the contractor assembled the wooden structure in an IKEA-like fashion. it now towers 26 meters over the park and can accommodate up to 225 people.

RO AD tower netherlands
climbing the tower is a unique experience  



today, the structure serves the community as an open theater, an info center and a watchtower. tourists and locals alike come here to take in the landscape and explore the festive creation which towers above the trees. this project prompts us to rethink how we interact with the natural environment and how we engage with one another.

RO AD tower netherlands
the tower is constructed primarily of wood and steel

RO AD tower netherlands
it’s a popular destination for the region’s young people

RO AD tower netherlands
a view of the exoskeleton 

RO AD tower netherlands
the building sits 27 meters above the landscape

RO AD tower netherlands
a depiction of the tower leaning over the water

RO AD tower netherlands
an image that provides scale

RO AD tower netherlands
the sun sets on the tower and the natural landscape





project info:


architect: RO&AD architecten, bergen op zoom
design team: ad kil, ro koster, martin van overveld
commissioner: gemeente bergen op zoom / municipality bergen op zoom
structural engineer: adviesbureau luning, velp
contractors: berghbouw, de kok bouwgroep, nijs soffers, vkp
photographer: katja effting
location: halsteren, nederland / the netherlands
start-end construction: 02-2017, 12-2017
function: uitkijktoren, openluchttheater, info-centrum / watch tower, open air theatre, info centre
height: 26 meters