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Zuiderzee Enclosure Dam

Zaandam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
Completed 1932

"The time has come to start to dam and reclaim the Zuiderzee. Progress in water management of the surrounding provinces, enlargement of our territory and a sustainable growth of labour will be the result." 
- Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, annual speech, 1913

The first Zuiderzee Enclosure Dam ran from North Holland to the island of Wieringen, successfully barring the sea for over 50 years and protecting a large area north of Amsterdam. The total Zuiderzee project was the largest land reclamation effort in the Netherlands, developed over a period of about 80 years, beginning in 1918 and reaching completion in 1996. The huge dyke/dam was considered one of the greatest engineering feats of its time.

Following creation of the dyke, four polders - which drained lands reclaimed from the sea by means of dikes - were built that were supported by an elaborate network of irrigation canals. The polders served as agricultural lands that allowed town planning opportunities to support farming and to build the local economy.


  1. Leonardo Benevolo,  History of Modern Architecture , Vol 2, MIT Press, 1971. 

Claim to Fame

The Zuiderzee Enclosure Dam has successfully barred the sea for over 50 years. The structure protects a large area north of Amsterdam, allowing construction of polders to claim these areas of land from the sea.