Building with Nature Guideline

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Your hands-on guide to Building with Nature

Worldwide, pressure on deltas and coastal regions is rising. Climate is changing, the population is growing and available space decreases. Hydraulic engineers are faced with the challenge to make designs that are sustainable, cost-effective and adaptable to changing conditions. Building with Nature (BwN) provides an answer to these challenges. The BwN approach includes natural and other ecosystem services, thereby creating a multi-functional, sustainable design which adds value for people, profit and planet. By taking advantage of natural processes to do part of the work, a cost-effective solution is created which is able to evolve over time with changing conditions. Furthermore, the inclusion of multiple stakeholders during the process results in benefits for the participants, while at the same time stimulating a mutual interest and shared commitment to the project. Last but not least, the interdisciplinary and system wide orientation of the BwN philosophy promotes long-term thinking and knowledge development in order to come up with the best solution.


How to use

This guideline contains knowledge that has been gained over the years through a number of Building with Nature pilot projects carried out by the EcoShape partners. Different Building with Nature opportunities are possible in different environment, providing a variety of ecosystem services to society. Below, you can choose the environment in which you are interested, which will guide you to a selection of Building Solutions. You can directly access relevant Building Solutions, Projects or useful Tools. For the latest news on the ongoing BwN activities, please visit the EcoShape website




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In which environment are you interested? 


Learn about our practical building solutions 

This section contains Building Solutions, grouped in Design Themes, that are based on knowledge generated within the BwN projects. The term Building Solution refers to the notion that in general any conceptual Building with Nature design consists of a number of elements that each have specific design or procedural considerations. The information in the Building Solutions pages should facilitate some rough design estimates that can serve as guidance for area selection and design. Based on experience from previous projects, they should also help to come up with rough estimates of construction cost.



Sandy solutions


Muddy solutions

Green-grey solutions

Sandy solutions

Sand nourishment, perched beaches and

ecological-oriented seabedscaping

Muddy solutions

Multiple benefits of mud e.g. flood risk reduction,

smart handling of fine sediments, etc

Green-grey solutions

A combination between BwN and more conventional

solutions, e.g. soft foreshores and rich revetments

Ecosystem engineers

Shoreline zonation strategies

Governance – BwN in society

Ecosystem engineers

Habitat requirements for shellfish, mangroves, corals,

seagrass and salt marshes, which can be used for BwN

Shoreline zonation strategies

Strategies such as managed realignment, coastal

buffer zones and inland shores to reduce flood risk


Involving stakeholders, embedding BwN in the legal

framework and finding innovative finance and contract solutions


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