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Welcome to the Building with Nature Design Guidelines


The Building with Nature (BwN) Guideline provides guidance on how to utilise natural processes while realising hydraulic infrastructure, and how to create additional benefits for nature as well as society in these projects. A range of BwN concepts have been tested in pilots and projects, which have been documented and included in this guideline. The main lessons learned are described on different levels in the Building Solutions, Projects and Toolbox.


The BwN concept is based on the BwN philosophy and principles that encourages the reader to take a sustainable, sometimes innovative approach, thereby often creating multi-functional solutions beneficial to multiple stakeholders. If you want to implement the philosophy of BwN, guidance for successful implementation throughout the process can be found in Steps and phases


The main goal of a BwN developer is to focus on opportunities and win-win solutions, thereby thinking outside the box of limited, uni-functional, problem perceptions and sector interests. This requires evaluating the long-term costs and benefits of the different multi-functional alternatives, which raises complexity. The Governance section provides an overview of several governance aspects of BwN-projects and their lessons learned as well as guidance on a number of key governance issues in such projects.




Target groups

These BwN Design Guidelines are specifically relevant for the following user groups. It is noted that specific sections can be of higher interest to one group of readers than to others.

  • Project Developers (initiation; planning & design; construction; operation)
  • Port authorities and governments (initiation; operation & maintenance)
  • Consultants, designers and contractors (initiation; planning & design; operation)
  • Scientists and education (initiation; planning & design | knowledge base)
  • Society and NGO's (initiation; operation & maintenance | public information, awareness)


What's in a name?

Using the benefits of nature for society is utilised increasingly worldwide. This large number of initiatives has led to the use of numerous concepts that have a similar meaning. A selection is given in the table below. Other initiatives include PEDRRThink NatureOPPLACoastAdapt and Naturally Resilient Communities

ConceptInitiated byDescription
Building with Nature (BwN)EcoshapeTaking advantage of natural processes for realizing hydraulic infrastructure, while at the same time providing opportunities for nature development
Green Infrastructure (GI)European Commission A network of natural and semi-natural areas, designed and managed to enhancing nature’s ability to deliver multiple valuable ecosystem goods and services 
Nature-Based Solutions (NBS)World BankLiving solutions designed to address various societal challenges in a resource efficient and adaptable manner
Engineering with nature (EWN) US Army Corps of EngineersIntentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaborative processes 
Working with nature (WWN)PIANCApproach that considers the project objectives from the perspective of the natural system rather than from the perspective of technical design

Working with Natural Processes (WwNP) 

Environment Agency (England)Protect, restore and emulate the natural functions of catchments, floodplains, rivers and the coast


Use of the Guidelines

You may use the information presented in this Building with Nature Design Guidelines as long as you mention in any publication you make, that you made use of information collected using the Building with Nature Design Guidelines Website. Citation whether full or partial or inclusion of the contents of the Building with Nature Design Guidelines in publications or papers, in any form of media, is permitted as long as you mention the Building with Nature Design Guidelines Website, or its related sources.


The work in the Building with Nature programme is carried out by the EcoShape consortium, that consists of private parties, government organisations and research institutes. The guidelines have been carefully composed by the participants of EcoShape’s Building with Nature programme through a review procedure to assess and monitor quality control. However, the information may not be complete and / or actual.


If you have any additional suggestions or improvements for the Guidelines, based on other research and field experiences, please Contact us.



Use of this Building with Nature Design Guidelines and the information it encloses, is at your own risk and expense. The Building with Nature Design Guidelines, the related website and the presented information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. Ecoshape expressly disclaims any implied warranty of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or for failure of performance and any and all liability for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered as a result of your downloading, use of, or reliance upon, the Building with Nature Design Guidelines, the website and the presented information.


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