The Netherlands’ Afsluitdijk reclaims iconic status

Water Governance and Climate

Managing prize competition for the innovative redesign of the Afsluitdijk

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

In 2005, the Afsluitdijk – part of the Delta works and the longest enclosure dam in the Netherlands – no longer conformed to the relevant safety standards and was in need of renovation. A prize competition was initiated to encourage innovation on and along the Afsluitdijk, with the ultimate aim of restoring the iconic status of the dam. As the Netherlands’ leading management consultancy firm, Twynstra was asked to design and oversee the competition.


Multi-purpose dam use

The focal point of the competition was to encourage multi-purpose use of the dam. By using Twynstra’s programme management methods, we analysed the demand for different dam usages. Via a purpose-effort network, we identified the dam’s purposes that would have to be taken into account during the renovation. Twynstra enabled the prioritisation and alignment of purposes, including water safety protection, recreation possibilities, economic development and new forms of energy generation. Our detailed prioritisation of the Afsluitdijk’s purposes allowed us to assess the initiatives before they were ultimately selected by an independent assessment committee. Afterwards, Twynstra supported the successful initiatives during the business case preparations.


Our results included:

  • Setting up a design prize competition
  • Developing selection criteria for prioritisation
  • Pre-selecting project proposals
  • Facilitating the assessment committee
  • Managing expectations of all stakeholders
  • Attracting new parties prepared to invest.


Twynstra provided the project and programme management expertise for the prize competition. Our work was of great value to the governments and business part of the prize competition, as it resulted in:

  • A transparent organisation of the competition and the assessment of initiatives
  • Alignment of national, regional and local interests
  • New collaborations between private and public parties
  • Plans that lead to the multi-purpose use of the Afsluitdijk
  • Multipliers in the financial arrangements and the volume of investments.