Sweet&Salt: Water, the Dutch, and the New Global Challenge

In Sweet&Salt: Water and the Dutch, American-born journalist and author Tracy Metz (Loeb Fellow 2007) describes the ‘extreme makeover’ of the Dutch landscape in order to accommodate a new relationship to water. Climate change is increasing the threat of both flooding and drought, and the consequences of a potential disaster are incalculable. The Dutch, armed with centuries of knowledge and technology for keeping water at bay, are now developing new ways of living and building with it.


Berenplaat water filtration plant

Berenplaat water filtration plant built in the sixties, ‘a cathedral for water’ designed by architect Wim Quist for water company Evides. Salt water already penetrates so far into the waterways of the Netherlands that drinking water providers have had to move their intake upstream or have had to stop the intake of river water for several days because the river is too low or the water is too salty.

Safety is still paramount – 70 percent of the Dutch economy is generated meters below sea level – but both the countryside and the cities are being redesigned around water. Each chapter of Sweet&Salt also describes how other places around the world – Hamburg, New Orleans, China, the Mekong Delta, New York - are coming to terms with one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.

The book, co-written with Maartje van den Heuvel, was published in conjunction with the exhibition "Sweet&Salt: Water and the Dutch" at the Kunsthal Rotterdam (14 February - 10 June). It was released in English and Dutch editions by NAi Publishers and is already in its second printing.

In an  earlier book, On the Ground: Observations from Harvard, Metz presented a selection of the essays, interviews and columns she wrote during her year in the Loeb Fellowship in 2006-07.

View the video of a lecture by Tracy Metz at the GSD

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