Despite the loss of identity in landscapes seen in VINEX neighbourhoods, the Dutch government is applying a similar approach with the ‘deltadike’ concept. This context independent concept will have serious impacts on the Dutch river landscapes and might result in landscapes that have lost their experiences and identity. One of the first dikes to which this could happen is the Grebbedijk between Wageningen en Rhenen.
This study sketches the current identity of the Grebbedijk in the Netherlands using a phenomenological approach. The experiential essence of the dike is found by doing first-person phenomenological research. It includes six sense- and experience recordings and the method of imaginative variation. The development of the dike is than viewed from its influence on the experiential essence, pointing out positive and negative consequences as well as opportunities for the experience and the identity. These findings are used in a design that not only strengthens the dike, but takes the context of the dike into account and amplifies its diverse experiences. It is argued that designing dikes from a phenomenological perspective can aid to overcome the problem of losing identity in unique dike landscapes. The study illustrates how phenomenological research can be integrated in contemporary methods of landscape architecture pointing out its potential contribution to the identity of a place.