“Every invention is an artwork as every artwork is an invention” 


During high tide in February 1995, Johann van den Noort invented the Self Closing Dam. Over the years he developed the system with various companies at home and abroad. The flood barrier is being built by Hyflo self closing flood systems BV in Kampen. The flood barrier is now, after about 22 years, the most demanded and sold self-closing water defense system in the world that already protects many cities, buildings and people from flooding in all continents. This invention has received 6 international awards, the most prominent of which is: The Best Civil Technical Invention Artist impressie of the world.

The self-closing flood barrier protects the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. The barriers is located in the pool of the museum en is normally under water.


Twin Wing Tsunami Barrier

As a result of the tsunamis caused by earthquakes in December 2004 in Asia and the Japanese tsunamis in Japan in March 2011, Johann van den Noort made the invention of the Twin Wing Tsunami Barrier (TWTB). He developed this idea in close collaboration with a group of eight students and professors at Hogeschool Zuyd in Heerlen. In a four-year period, three groups were formed that, in the context of their graduation project, studied the tsunami barrier, and in the hydraulic engineering laboratory of the university of applied sciences, where tsunami waves could be simulated, the system was extensively tested. The barrier that lies far off the coast on the seabed and can close bays eliminates the tsunami waves completely before they get their strength and height and sends them back into the ocean. With the many study data and reports Johann van den Noort eventually developed the Twin Wing Tsunami Barrier, which was received with great praise worldwide. The invention received the annual Wall Street Journal Technological Innovation Award in 2012 and the highly coveted Edison Award in 2013.


Design drawing of the floating and revolving airport (RFA) in the sea as a hub for Schiphol

As a result of the traffic inconvenience of Schiphol, in June 2001 Johann van den Noort designed a floating airport in the North Sea some 15 kilometers off the coast. The idea is to build a round concrete island with a diameter of 250 meters. Around this island a floating pneumatically stabilized platform can rotate on a bearing and be placed in the wind. The aircraft can therefore always take off and land in the wind. The fixed island is connected to the existing Schiphol airport with a subway tunnel. The RFA had many environmental advantages over a fixed island and can handle 70 million passengers annually. A feasibility study was carried out in collaboration with engineering firm Royal Haskoning and a group of TU Delft students. The invention was nominated for the; Dutch ID-NL 2004 Award. 



Design drawing of oil removal vessel

The oil spills with oil tankers such as the Exxon Valdez prompted Johann van den Noort to develop a vessel with which oil can be removed from the sea surface in a fast and efficient manner. With a cruising speed of 25 – 30 knots, fast on the spot, the catamaran with revolving brushes between the two hulls can lift 500 tons of oil at an average speed of 5 knots per hour from the sea and pump them into inflatable floating containers. The invention was further developed and designed in collaboration with students from TU Delft and Shipyard Peters in Kampen. The invention received the Innovation Award 2000 from the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.


  • Wind vane Self-steering gear for sailing yachts.
  • Tidal Hydropower Turbine for generating energy from tidal currents.
  • Temporary pool wall for wave baths.
  • Tide Pontoon for up and down on ferries.
  • Solution BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010
  • Solution traffic problem Stationsplein Kampen

 Article of Drs. Enith Vlooswijk in “De Ingenieur”, Januari 2016 :

‘Every invention is a work of art’

If the Netherlands really wants to innovate, technical education must pay much more attention to creative education, says Johann van den Noort (75). De Kampenaar designed a new flood defense for the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and won the prestigious Edison Silver Award with its Twin Wing Tsunami Barrier. Without his painting studio it would not have been possible. “It was night and I could not sleep. Dikes were breaking through in all kinds of places in the Netherlands, also here in Kampen. It was in February 1995. Throughout the day I had seen people lugging with sandbags, with which they had laid an extra dike on the road. As a child I had built many sandcastles on the beach in Wijk aan Zee and just knew: if that dike breaks through, then the water will wash away that sand. Our house was then flooded. Is there no other way to stop the water than to carry sandbags, I wondered. In the middle of the night I got out of bed to go to my studio. There I made a sketch of a flood defense that can turn the water completely independently. The principle is simple: a polyester wall in a container automatically goes up when the container fills with water. When the sketch was finished, I went back to bed and fell asleep. My studio is incredibly important to me. I’ve been drawing and painting all my life, I think I made five or six thousand works of art in my life. Every day I am busy creating. If you are musical, you can not play the piano right now, that takes many hours of practice. If you want to make good art, you have to spend hours doing it every day. You also have to dare to be free, because being a good person is not yet creative. The freer you are in art, the more creativity you develop. I come across all sorts of ideas through art. With that first nocturnal sketch – I framed it – I went to work. In Hasselt, we first built a model in a swimming pool and we started taking tests. It took two years for the design to work and be salable. In 1998 we laid the first flood defense in Meppel, now we have 20 distributors worldwide. The principle is applied to all continents. There will also be one at the Van Abben Museum in Eindhoven, which is located on the Dommel. My art and my inventions, everything has to do with water. I sailed my entire life and had boats myself. Even at wind force eight, we are still quietly on the sea. As a designer I mainly use the laws of nature, such as the law of archimedes: the upward force of water is the same as the weight of the displaced water. In my art I represent the ferocity and the freedom of water. When I paint, the paint drips from it, the splashes are very visible. I use the basic properties of water to create something, I also let chance do its work. I love waves, waterfowl and islands in the sea. People on an island see water everywhere, they depend on that water and have to keep it to friend. I recently had to give a lecture for 180 students at TU Delft at a symposium entitled ‘The fight against the water’. I told them that you can never win that battle, you can not destroy a drop of water, it always stays the same amount. However, you can protect yourself against it. In addition to this flood defense, I have also made other designs, for example a floating airfield on the North Sea for Schiphol, and a ship with which you can scrape oil from the water very quickly in the event of environmental disasters. After the tsunami in Asia I designed the Twing Wing Tsunami Barrier. When the sea retreats, the first wing automatically collapses and stops the coastal water. When the wave then rolls back, the second wing rises to protect the coast. For this design I won the Wall Street Journal Technical Innovation Award and the Edison Silver Award in 2013. I went to pick it up in Chicago, where I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. I am not an engineer. I have dislexia and have done MTS autotechniek with great difficulty and followed an evening course at the art academy for two years. When I designed the flood defense, I had a car company. I later sold that. Through art I have developed my creativity: if there is a problem, I think about it and I actually have a solution for it very quickly. Making a work of art always has a problem that you have to solve. You have to do that very quickly; when I put a line on paper, I quickly determine what the next line will be. To exclude nothing in advance, that is very important, because creativity is improvising. Every invention is a work of art and every work of art is an invention. Do we want to stimulate the innovation, you have to develop that in yourself. When I was on the MTS, we had creative training, drawing and painting a few hours a week. That is actually no longer given and in the university no longer at all. Everything has become enormously professional, which is a big loss. I visited the university in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. There they have an Innovation department which also involves a lot of drawing and painting. I think it is one of the most important courses that a school can give. You will learn a language automatically, you have to do this every day. There is too little awareness at the moment, schools are too technical and too subject-oriented. When I see what they are doing in the far east in that area, I fear that we will still face considerable competition in the Netherlands. I sometimes say to production companies that they should actually employ an artist who thinks along with them. Perhaps someone is even more important than an accountant. If a company has a problem, an artist can sometimes come up with much better solutions than people who have become business blind. I also do not understand that my flood defense has not been invented much earlier. In the past I have sold a lot of paintings, especially to companies that sometimes wanted to furnish entire offices. I have been selling less in recent years, because it is such a hassle and it is not going well with galleries. Never have I considered living off art. I thought it was much better to be independent. If you have to sell art, your audience should like it. And because I had a good job, I was always able to use the best materials. I am as much a designer as an artist, just like Leonardo da Vinci. I could not choose. You often see that with artists: Jan van der Heijden, the inventor of the fire sprayer, was also an artist. It is precisely artists who have the creativity to invent something. My son now takes over the sales, I continue painting and designing. Although I am seventy-five, I do not think I can ever stop. That is also because I am a Christian, I see it as an assignment from God to make the world a little better, safer and more beautiful. Yes, it is a calling. “