Schokland: World heritage site in mixed reality

September 22, 2022

What if there was a way to make ancient world heritage come to life? An interactive view that enables you to experience landscapes of the past? The Wetfutures project has embraced an innovative way to bring science to the general public by making use of immersive technologies. A mixed reality app was developed for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Schokland, a former island in the Zuiderzee that is considered a national symbol for the age-old Dutch battle against the water.

The app will be available in the WANDER lab (Wageningen University & Research) for everyone who wants to experience it, and will be officially launched later in 2022.

Taking users back to different phases in the history of the island, the app is a great tool for visualising scientific data and raising awareness and enthusiasm on landscape history. It offers a tangible, engaging reconstruction of our past, which helps to understand our present and potentially to plan for the future.

Cultural heritage in dynamic wetland environments

Roy van Beek is Assistant Professor in Landscape Archaeology at Wageningen University & Research, and project leader of the European Wetfutures project that centres on cultural heritage in dynamic wetland environments in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland. One of the pilot areas is the former island of Schokland, which has been inhabited for thousands of years and underwent major landscape changes through time. In 1942 the Zuiderzee was reclaimed, and now Schokland lies in a ‘polder’ landscape which only offers a faint glimpse of the past.

I hope this app will bring Schokland's past to life for the general public, and that the historical GIS system will help us to manage this special landscape.
Dr. Roy van Beek

These major long-term changes are reflected in a historical GIS system (HGIS), developed by post-doc Rowin van Lanen and researcher spatial analysis Menne Kosian (Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency). This HGIS forms the fundament underneath the mixed reality app that was developed by the WANDER lab, in cooperation with Museum Schokland.

Experiencing the 3D data-driven environment

Digital transition enables virtual and real worlds to merge, which in turn revolutionizes how people interact with information. Immersive visualisation techniques can serve as new mediums to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in a comprehensive, productive and engaging way. In this case, the mixed reality capabilities allow the audience to experience the 3D data-driven environment of historical Schokland without the need of being experts in the area.

We are literally bringing knowledge to society. What's more, we can finally put this technology to great use.
Ioana Mereuta (WANDER lab)


Several parties contributed to this video and app. Dr Roy van Beek (Wageningen University & Research) is one of the project leaders for the NWO and RCE-funded European research project Wetfutures, which is part of JPI Cultural Heritage. Ioana Mereuta of WANDER lab (Wageningen University & Research) is responsible for the development of the mixed reality app. Marcella Marinelli is coordinator for World Heritage Schokland at the municipality of Noordoostpolder. The video and app will also be available to the general public at Museum Schokland.