Topos 87 – Coastal Strategies


Over time, people have had to adapt to the forces of nature. They had to avoid high tides and floods as well as fires and had to evaluate risks in order to minimise them. In the past, flood barriers, dykes and other ingenious technical measures have served those who could afford protection. However, climate change and associated storms and floods now call for risk management concepts and adaption strategies, i.e. flexible systems. These techniques are being developed in the USA, Europe and Asia. This issue of Topos contains some fascinating examples of coastal strategies.

Zandmotor vlucht-3010-01-2012foto: Rijkswaterstaat/Joop van Houdt
The sand engine in South Holland, which created a new sandy peninsula, is one example of measures that enhance coastal safety and allow diversity of the Dutch coast. (photo: Rijkswaterstaat/Joop van Houdt)

The Future of the Dutch Coast: The Netherlands have reacted to the challenge of rising sea levels by launching the National Coastal Strategy. A research studio developed approaches for how to use natural dynamics in coastal development. From 2011 until mid-2013, the Coastal Quality Studio (Atelier Kust­kwaliteit) investigated ways to improve the quality of the Dutch coast by means of long-term protective measures. The Studio was established as an independent workplace for the development, design, elaboration, dissemination, and discussion of new ideas combining coastal defence and spatial quality.

The proposed Phase 1 pilot at Tottenville implements all elements of the project: physical, ecological, and social. It will be used to study ecological benefits, wave-reduction impacts, and the economic and recreational potential of Living Breakwaters. (Rendering: Scape Team)

Competition Rebuild by Design: how can coastal landscapes serve as protective ecological infrastructure for growing cities? How can we measure, test, and ­rebuild these critical – and endangered – shallow-water ecosystems? One of the winning proposals “Living Break­waters” for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ­Rebuild by ­Design competition advances the ongoing ­exploration of the critical relationship ­between water, nature, and urban culture.

The swamps and wetlands of the Mississippi Delta are being destroyed by interventions like the logging canals seen here in the Maurepas Swamp. (Photo: K. D. Cheramie)

Changing Course – Redesigning the Lower Mississippi Delta: To restore the regenerative capacity of the Mississippi River’s wetlands, international and interdisciplinary teams who participate in the Changing Course Competition, are looking for solutions. The outcome, it is hoped, will significantly contribute to the 2017 State Master Plan of Louisiana.
BU: The swamps and wetlands of the Mississippi Delta are being destroyed by interventions like the logging canals seen here in the Maurepas Swamp.

Soil and clay, bamboo and also concrete blocks have been used to effect stability of the ­embankment – however the river is stronger in the long run. (Photo: Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit GIZ)

Embankments in Bangladesh – everyone is needed: Since the 1960s, Bangladesh has implemented several flood control and irrigation projects. Now, with the forecast of a sea ­level rise of 60 to 80 centimeters until 2050, this infrastructure is reaching its limit. There is a growing understanding that people ­living in the coastal areas, authorities and local communities have to work together.