of the Wadden
The entire Wadden Sea is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO’s recognition of the uniqueness of the Wadden was the inspiration behind the creation of the new Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre, located in Lauwersoog harbour. Here at the centre, we are committed to fostering a healthy balance between people and nature in the Wadden, for the sake of future generations.
See, feel, hear and taste the extraordinary ecosystem of the Wadden, with your feet in the mud and the salt wind in your hair. Our community of scientists, students, volunteers and entrepreneurs works here all year round. They invite you to join them for a day.
The World Heritage Centre Experience takes you on a journey of discovery. Learn about life in and around the Wadden Sea, watch how we take care of seals, find out how the tides work, roll up your sleeves and lend us a hand. Hungry after all that activity? Visit our restaurant and try one of our locally and sustainably sourced dishes.
Dare to dream of a whole new world: a world in which there is a healthy balance between people and nature in the Wadden area. Together with the Dutch Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability (IVN), we are busy developing an inspiring educational programme for children, parents and schools.
In the World Heritage Centre, you will meet researchers and students: ecologists, biologists and other scientists, all studying life on and around the Wadden. Their goal is to learn more about the Wadden Sea’s extraordinary ecosystem. And you are invited to learn alongside them.
At the World Heritage Centre, people come together with heart for the Wadden Sea: local entrepreneurs, residents and nature conservationist. Together. The student who works here. The resident who comes to a meeting. It is a place of encounter and collaboration.
The World Heritage Centre is the working hub of the Wadden. Hard-working scientists, students, volunteers and entrepreneurs are on a journey of learning and discovery. And we invite you, as a visitor, to join us on that journey.
Where experiences are shared
Buy your ticket for the special Wadden Sea Experience at the desk in the entrance hall. As a ‘Wadden researcher for a day’, immerse yourself in the world of the Wadden, walking alongside ecologists, biologists and vets on their journey of discovery. Explore the secret lives of our tiniest creatures, such as viruses, bacteria and algae. Learn what the Wadden was like when nature had free reign and how the area has changed over the years. The Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre also triggers reflection. How can we preserve this beautiful region? And what role can I play?
Meet this country’s largest native predatory animal: the seal. While caring for seals here, we also study them. What do they use their whiskers for? And how do they ‘talk’ to each other?
Having enjoyed the Experience, treat yourself to lunch at our café, where all the food we serve is sourced locally and sustainably. In the evening, you can dine in our gastronomic restaurant offering beautiful views over the Wadden Sea. And if you’d like a tangible reminder of your visit, our shop sells products crafted by local artisans.
The World Heritage Centre is also the starting point for outdoor excursions. Sign up for a local mudflat hike, join a fisherman on a fishing trip or discover the best walking and cycling trails. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Where learning is a joint activity
Here at the World Heritage Centre, we believe in learning together and learning from each other. Together with the Dutch Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability (IVN), we are busy developing educational programmes for all age groups. These range from programmes for primary schools to a ‘living lab’ where students and businesses can work together to build a sustainable future. The Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre is all about exploring, experimenting and learning new things.
Where research happens
Scientists and students gather here to learn more about the Wadden area and the relationship between people and nature. Biologists, ecologists and vets all spend time here observing sea creatures, conducting measurements and taking samples of life on the Wad. As they pool their findings, our knowledge about the area continues to expand. As well as being a field station for researchers, the centre also welcomes visitors. And students from around the world come and stay here in Lauwersoog to learn about the Wadden Sea.
The Sealcentre at the World Heritage Centre conducts studies into seals’ health and behaviour. It also conducts research relating to fishing and marine biology in collaboration with the Integrated Fisheries Foundation (Stichting Geïntegreerde Visserij).
Where valuable encounters take place
The World Heritage Centre welcomes researchers, students, volunteers and local entrepreneurs. Together we make up a community of people, united in our commitment to the Wadden and to a sustainable future. We meet regularly to share ideas about how to make the best use of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre. We look forward to enjoying similarly valuable encounters with visitors and local residents as soon as our doors open. The World Heritage Centre will continue to be a place where people can gather, hold meetings, host events and learn.
The new Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre, located in Lauwersoog harbour, was designed by Danish architectural firm Dorte Mandrup. The materials used for the construction of this energy-neutral building were carefully selected to fit into its unique setting.
The assignment was to design a building to be constructed outside the dikes that would fit into the Wadden landscape. The materials used had to be able to withstand the local climate. Danish architect Dorte Mandrup came up with a wooden building that follows the contours of its surroundings, sloping down towards the sea.
The new Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre suits its surroundings perfectly. Wood is an ideal construction material in areas prone to high wind, such as the Lauwersoog harbour.
The Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre will be built according to a design by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup. The assignment was to design a building to be constructed outside the dikes that would fit into the Wadden landscape. The materials used had to be able to withstand the local climate. The result is a wooden building that follows the contours of its surroundings, sloping down towards the sea.
The ingenious design includes vertical blinds that make optimal use of the natural light. They protect the inside of the building from the sun during the day and cut out light pollution at night. The glass facades create a near-seamless transition between the indoors and the outdoors. And the light and the ambience inside the building alter subtly each time the weather changes.
Sustainability is a key value of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre. The building will be energy-neutral and the materials we use will be recyclable. Our seal pools will be fitted with state-of-the-art water purification installations that comply with the latest sustainability and environmental standards.
Dorte Mandrup is a Danish architect, known for her analytical approach to architecture. Her designs are conceptually strong and innovative in terms of both form and material. She is known for her iconic designs, such as the Wadden Sea Centre on the west coast of Denmark and the Icefjord Center on a UNESCO-protected site in Greenland.
In the building
The entrance hall of the World Heritage Centre is open to everyone. You don’t need a ticket. Our boat trips and mudflat hikes start from here, as well as various workshops, such as ‘cooking with seaweed’. You can also access the gift shop from here. Buy your entrance tickets to the rest of the World Heritage Centre at the reception desk, where our tourist information staff will be happy to answer questions.
From the first floor to the second floor and onto the roof: allow the World Heritage Centre Experience to activate and inspire you as you explore the Wadden Sea’s fascinating ecosystem. Discover the close bonds between people and nature here. Learn about the positive impact we can have on our environment, now and in the future. Find out how we take care of rescued seals, study the underwater environment and seek to unravel the mysteries of the night sky. This is your chance to meet us and work alongside us. And, who knows, your visit might inspire you to get involved in other ways in the future.
Our building is a working hub where scientists and students study the extraordinary ecosystem of the Wadden. Our core focuses are marine biology and veterinary and microbiological research on seals. We are a living laboratory, researching a range of topics from fish and soil life to sustainable tourism and educating others about them, while making scientific research accessible to a wider public.
The Wadhal is our central foyer and can be accessed via the entrance hall. You can meet the local community here: the students, researchers, volunteers and other users of the building. This is where organisations that care about the Wadden Sea and the Lauwersmeer coast hold presentations, exhibitions and events, ranging from exhibitions of nature photos to presentations about the various green initiatives in the harbour. There will be something new to discover every time you visit.
There are seals swimming around on our roof - not just as a tourist attraction but because they need medical care. Some are sick; others have been injured by floating debris. We have one of the best equipped seal hospitals in Europe. We take care of the seals until they are ready to be released back into the wild. These icons of the Wadden Sea are our country’s largest native predatory animals. So while they are with us, we take the opportunity to study them. The one-way glass between you and the seals enables us – and you - to observe them without disturbing them.
Take a well-earned break. Enjoy a cup of coffee or treat yourself to a lunch prepared with local products. Just what you need at the end of a long mudflat hike or the ferry journey from Schiermonnikoog.
Discover our range of gastronomic delights created from the best local organic products. Tip: our exclusive restaurant is worth visiting just for the beautiful views over the Wadden Sea.
Auditorium and meeting rooms
Here at the Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre, we have all the facilities we need to host events and activities that reflect our ambition to shape the future of our world. Our auditorium seats 120 guests. We also have smaller meeting rooms and spaces for more informal gatherings. Plenty of opportunity to meet, learn and do business. The nearby overnight accommodation options also make this the perfect location for multi-day seminars, conferences or summer schools.
Learning by doing
How do we achieve a healthy balance between ecology and economy, fisheries, nature conservation and tourism? Everyone who has a heart for the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site is welcome to meet here to discuss such issues. And together with the Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability (IVN), we are busy developing a full range of educational programmes and activities for all age groups. No matter how many lectures, workshops and other events you attend, there will always be more to discover about this special area.
Where land meets water. Between the Lauwersmeer and the Wadden Sea. The new World Heritage Centre in Lauwersoog nurtures the bonds between and people and nature in and around the Wadden Sea, the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Netherlands.
UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea is this country’s only natural World Heritage Site. Around the globe, there are only 213 natural sites in total that are considered so important that they have been placed on the World Heritage List.
To be included on UNESCO’s international World Heritage List, natural and cultural sites must be deemed to be of outstanding universal value to humanity. UNESCO protects the sites on the list. These sites also advance mutual understanding between cultures.
The Wadden Sea became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. It was granted this special status because it is a young, dynamic area that is home to landscapes at all the different stages of development and it has an exceptionally varied ecosystem with over 10,000 different animals and plants. The Wadden area is the only natural World Heritage Site in the Netherlands. It is our duty and privilege to protect and maintain it.
Lauwersoog harbour and the Wadden coast
The World Heritage Centre will be located in the Lauwersoog fishing and yachting harbour, where people gather for work, research and recreation. The harbour is one of the drivers of the economy of North-West Groningen and North-East Friesland. Its ambition is to become the most sustainable and welcoming harbour in the Wadden area. The Sustainable Harbour Coalition (Duurzame Haven Coalitie) is an alliance that has been created specifically to encourage fishermen, recreation businesses, restaurants and nature organizations towards realizing this goal.
The Wadden Zee World Heritage Centre offers a platform for all local parties, entrepreneurs and authorities wishing to contribute to the innovative and sustainable development of the area. The Centre has an important role to play in attracting visitors from near and far to this unique tourist region.
The World Heritage Centre exists to support a community of people with the shared ambition of fostering a healthy balance between people and nature, for the sake of future generations.
The Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre’s mission is to enable people to experience the Wadden area first-hand and to show the world how unique and indispensable the Wadden Sea Heritage Site is. We also would like to meet others with heart for the Wadden. Is your organisation involved in the Wadden area and would you like to exchange ideas?
Contact our relationship manager Miriam van Dijk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrepreneurs in the Lauwersoog area • Municipality of North-East Friesland • Dutch society of nature conservation (Natuurmonumenten)• The Wadden Academie • Noorderzijlvest Water Board (Waterschap Noorderzijlvest) • Lauwersoog Sustainable Harbour Coalition (Duurzame Haven Coalitie Lauwersoog) • Restaurant Schierzicht • NDC Mediagroep • Wadden Sea World Heritage (NL) • Hulp in Nood fishermens’ association • NG Shipyards • WadDuurzaam Foundation • University of Groningen • Lauwersoog Harbour Exploitation Working Party (Exploitatie Haven Lauwersoog) • Integrated Fisheries Foundation (Stichting Geïntegreerde Visserij) • ifest Lauwerskust • Dutch Institute of Nature Conservation and Sustainability (IVN) • Dutch forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer) • Stichting Promotie Waddenland
The World Heritage Centre is an initiative of Sealcentre Pieterburen (Zeehondencentrum Pieterburen). In 2016, the Sealcentre set up the Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre Foundation in partnership with the (Staatsbosbeheer), the Municipality of het Hogeland (at the time: the Municipality of de Marne), the Province of Groningen and the Lauwersoog Harbour Exploitation Working Party (Exploitatie Haven Lauwersoog).
Development of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre is in full progress. We and our partners are working hard to ensure that we will be ready to open in 2023.
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start of construction
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Donate via the Capital Campaign
We are looking for committed donors for our Capital Campaign. If you would like to contribute financially to the realization of the Wadden sea World Heritage Centre, contact Conny Oldenhuis: email@example.com. to discuss what you can do for us and what we can do for you.