The Netherlands has a reputation for being “flat” geographically speaking, but a journalist called for the Dutch to build their own mountain.
The highest point on Dutch soil is technically a volcano on the island of Sava in what’s called the Caribbean Netherlands. But Thijs Zonneveld, a former professional cyclist turned sports writer, wants to change that and he called for the Dutch to build their own mountain.
Thijs Zonneveld, who remembers making drawings of mountains in his geography book at school, has recently used his newspaper column to argue that the Dutch need their own mile-high peak.
“The Dutch people go to the mountains in the summertime and wintertime by the millions,” Zonneveld wrote.
“They go for biking, for hiking, for having a picnic with a view, and for skiing in wintertime.”
“So, what we need is our own mountain in Holland, so that people don’t have to leave the country to enjoy these things.”
The journalist said that, at first, he meant it as a joke.
“But after I wrote the column, I got so much response from people who had been thinking seriously about this that I started to take it seriously myself.”
This week, Thijs Zonneveld organized a brainstorming session in the city of Utrecht. Dozens of engineers, architects and urban planners gathered to talk about how exactly would go about building a mile-high mountain.
The brainstorming session kicked off with all participants doing a rousing cheer of “Die Berg Komt Er!” (“The Mountain is Coming!”)
Pol Tummers, from Dutch engineering firm DHV, started things off by reminding people that:
“God created the Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.”
The Dutch, after all, have been using technology and engineering to carve land out of the sea for centuries.
“We created our own country,” Tummers said.
“We created our lakes. We planted our woods. The only thing we haven’t done yet, is a mountain.”
“When we finish this, we can lay down and relax,” Tummers added.
Pol Tummers and his partner presented a plan envisioning a snow-capped mountain sitting offshore, in Dutch waters, in the North Sea. They estimated it would take more than a trillion cubic feet of sand to build it, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars.
Another architect at the brainstorming session presented an idea for a land-based Swiss-Alps style peak made with a man-made steel structure underneath.
“On that type of mountain, only one man can stand on the top,” says urban planner Martin Dubbeling.
“That’s absolutely not very Dutch. What we need is a different type of mountain, on which we can all stand on top.”
Martin Dubbling suggests that a flat-topped mountain, a mesa, might be more suited to the Dutch character.
“That way more Dutch could stand on it, as equals, at the same time.”
Martin Dubbeling also insists that the Dutch need a new big engineering project.
“Since we stopped reclaiming land from the sea, we Dutch are in some kind of identity crisis. And in the last decades we could export our ideas. But now, with this economic crisis, we really have to think of something different. ”
“A mountain definitely qualifies on that score.”
The idea of building a mountain has drawn the support of some of the Dutch sports federations.
Meanwhile, “The Mountain is NOT Coming”, an anti-mountain page, appeared on Facebook.
“I am anti-mountain!”
“First of all, it will be an eyesore, and second, that money could be better spent on education and health care,” wrote one visitor to the Facebook page.
But the organizer, Thijs Zonneveld said:
“We’re not going to change the whole country. We just want to give people more options. The whole of Holland, with the exception of a small part of the country in the south, is flat already. We won’t change anything about that.”