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 Building with Nature Guideline > Projects > Building with Nature in delta cities - Dordrecht and Rotterdam, NL

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Building with Nature in delta cities - Dordrecht and Rotterdam, NL


Location: Beneden Merwede Dordrecht, Nieuwe Maas Rotterdam
Date: 2014-present
Involved parties: Municipality of Dordrecht, Municipality of Rotterdam, Deltares, Witteveen+Bos

Technology Readiness Level: 6 (technology demonstrated in relevant environment)
Environment: City
Keywords: Natural embankments, tidal park, city, water framework directive, BwN in the City

Building with Nature designTraditional design

Green bank systems partly restore the lost tidal ecosystem that once was so abundant and unique for the area. The Building with Nature interventions do not only provide educational and ecological value, but also add value in the sense of a more attractive and healthier living environment within the borders of a city.

Traditional bank systems are strengthened with hard material (mostly rock) prohibiting vegetation growth. Vegetation is often regarded as a stability risk and may also be aesthetically undesired. Urban parks along river banks are separated from the river by obstacles of hard material to meet safety criteria for citizens.




In the project Building with Nature in delta cities, small areas of tidal nature are created in heavily urbanized areas in Dordrecht and Rotterdam to mitigate the impact of human building activities on the tidal ecosystem and to create beneficial societal goals.

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Initiation phase

The pilot projects in Dordrecht and Rotterdam were initiated when the municipality of Dordrecht searched for partners to advance their aim to greenify the city and to strengthen her name as an 'innovative water city' and when Rotterdam initiated the programme ‘Rivier als Getijdepark’ (English: ‘River as a tidal park’) (Boer et al. 2014) in which EcoShape participated.


 Location of pilots (topographic layer: © contributors).

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Planning and design phase

In the beginning of the exploration phase, typical elements within a river system were linked to Building with Nature-type interventions (see table) to inspire urban designers and landscape architects in the first phases of the projects. Later on, during a system analysis, the physical and ecological processes that direct the design considerations were taken into account in more detail. 


In the pilot Wervenpark Dordrecht, a park is designed in which a part will have a traditional park layout while a lower lying part will develop as tidal area. In the pilot Mallegatpark a tidal channel is constructed in connection with the recently redesigned park on shore with the goal to increase the experimental and natural value of the park and its surroundings (Van den Berg, 2018). In the Nassauhaven pilot, a nature friendly riverbank is constructed in the Nassauhaven alongside the existing Nassauhaven park. At this location 18 floating houses will be constructed as well (Van den Berg, 2018). The goal of the nature friendly river bank is to increase the experimental and natural value of the park and harbour and to contribute to ecological processes.

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The construction of the Nassauhaven projected has started in January, 2018. The construction of the Wervenpark has not started yet and the construction of the project Mallegatpark started in 2016, but was put on hold in December 2017.

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Operation and maintenance

There are no detailed operation and maintenance plans yet. In general, nature will get the opportunity to develop by itself and interference will only occur if the nature is developing in an unwanted direction. Monitoring plans of the pilots focus on flora and fauna and, for the Mallegatpark, on sedimentation.

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Lessons Learned

Under 'Read more', the main lessons learned are given. A more in-depth exploration of the lessons learned in the pilot project in Dordrecht is described in the evaluation report of Van der Meulen and Hommes (2016).

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