Seven reference designs
During the project's design phase, seven reference designs for the outer contour were calculated to see their effects. For each design, matters including the consequences for the coastline from Zeeland to the Waddenzee were mapped out. The safest, most sustainable and cost-effective type of seawall was also investigated. Nautical safety was assessed by looking at issues including the altered wave and current patterns: how safely can ocean-going ships enter the port, even under severe weather conditions? The relationships among the port site, recreation and nature area functions were studied: are they in reasonable balance? Altogether, the seven reference designs were weighed up using 27 reference criteria.
Own port entrance or not?
Two variants each of area 2,500 hectares stayed long in the running. The most important difference between these two was a direct entrance from the sea. Should this be realised or not? The cut-through variant was chosen: not directly accessible from the sea, though better for the environment and safety. Moreover, this option proved less expensive.
The separate port entrance from the sea perished due to high costs and extra maintenance. The necessary construction of a breakwater many kilometres long particularly made this variant much more expensive. Further, the port would be inaccessible in extreme weather conditions. Also, more silt would be drawn into the port basins. Due to this, more maintenance would have to take place to keep the port basins at the correct depth.
The cut-through variant
The design chosen, in which the ships reach Maasvlakte 2 via a short detour, was named the cut-through variant. Cut-through, because the Yangtzehaven on the Maasvlakte must be cut through in order to serve as access to Maasvlakte 2. Sea-going and inland vessels sail into Maasvlakte 2 via the Yangtzehaven. The cut-through variant is compact, fits into the coastline and is safe.
Compact shape saves space
Due to its compact shape, less land is needed to obtain the same amount of allocatable land. Maasvlakte 2 occupies 2,000 hectares rather than the 2,500 hectares once planned, but still provides 1,000 hectares of newly distributable land. From a viewpoint of efficiency and sustainability, clustering of container terminals, distribution and chemical industry was opted for within the design.
Rounded shape fits into coastline
The streamlined shape designed fits best into the coastline and strongly resembles the heads of the islands of South Holland and Zeeland. This may be seen in the rounding off of the fairway and the oblique south-west coast that follows the mouth of the Haringvliet channel. Moreover, this shape has the least impact on currents, waves, coastal erosion and silt transport.
Seawall provides space for nature and recreation
The best choice for the seawall is a combination of hard and soft: 3.5 kilometres of hard seawall (a dyke of stones and blocks) in the north, and around 7.5 kilometres of soft seawall with beach and dunes in the west. Moreover, the soft seawall provides good opportunities for nature development and recreation.
Design takes the environment into account
Due to the fact that the cut-through variant is more compact than the previous reference designs (2,000 hectares rather than 2,500), the loss of protected nature area in the Voordelta (coastal delta) is reduced. Further, the compact variant is at a slightly greater distance from the protected Voorne and Goeree dune areas.
Accessible for the very largest sea-going ships
The largest container ships currently sailing and the even larger ones in development can safely enter Maasvlakte 2 24 hours a day. Sea-going and inland vessels enter Maasvlakte 2 via the Yangtzehaven. This is being extended through to Maasvlakte 2, deepened to 20 metres under NAP (New Amsterdam Water Level) and widened to around 600 metres.
Safe for shipping
The rapid and safe accessibility of the port is guaranteed by the design and provisions such as an advanced Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) system. The construction of Maasvlakte 2 of course has consequences for the currents and waves at Rotterdam's access from the sea. For a safely-accessible port, the cross-currents in front of and in the port entrance are a particularly important factor. For this reason, extensive simulation research was done using computer models and manoeuvring simulators. The conclusion is that the Maasvlakte 2 land reclamation will lead to more favourable current conditions in the Maasgeul channel and the Maas Entrance. Within the port itself, the current will indeed increase here and there, but sea-going and inland traffic will experience no hindrance from it. After the construction of Maasvlakte 2, the wave conditions for sea traffic will remain comparable to the present situation as well. Through the design chosen, the very largest container ships can safely reach the new port area in poor weather conditions with winds of up to Force 8.
Landscape architecture in design phase
Attention is being paid in the design of Maasvlakte 2 to the appearance of the area and how people perceive it. On the sea side, the natural dune landscape is visible, and on the interior the port landscape. By constructing height differences, viewpoints and vistas, attractive port views from different places are created. To achieve this, requirements were imposed on the location, the shape and the colour usage in the buildings, among other things. This is intended to make the Maasvlakte 2 experience unique.