Building with Nature: Successful Innovative Marine Engineering (The Netherlands)

Successful Innovative Marine Engineering

Building with Nature is a sustainable and effective strategy for increasing water safety, while simultaneously creating opportunities for the economy, society and nature.

That was evident from the results of the Building with Nature innovation programme. The Building with Nature concept takes the natural system as a starting point for the design and completion of marine engineering works.

Examples include the use of oyster reefs in the Oosterschelde estuary to hold back mud and sand flat erosion, and the protection of tropical coasts by dredging work in combination with mangrove planting. Another example is the Sand Motor, a large-scale sand suppletion project for the benefit of coastal safety, nature development and recreation.

It has now become clear that such solutions are effective and, depending on the on-site situation, cheaper than a traditional approach. That was demonstrated during the Ecoshape Lustrum Conference in Rotterdam. Marine engineering managers and researchers (Cees Veerman, Frank Verhoeven, Stefan Kuks, Renske Peters, Wim Kuijken and Huib de Vriend) spoke of the worldwide challenges involved in delta technology and the resulting opportunities for Building with Nature.

The booklet is intended to communicate the opportunities offered by the concept to a wide audience in order to effect large-scale practical application. It was presented at the conference by Huib de Vriend and offered to Renske Peters (on behalf of the government), Jan Schaart (business community) and Harry Baayen (knowledge centres) as representatives of the Water Top Sector. The introduction is by Delta Commissioner Wim Kuijken, who states that ‘the nature of the solutions being studied and developed by the consortium means that they are extremely suitable for linking ecological value with water safety and quality objectives. They therefore make a direct contribution to the aims of the Delta programme’.

In view of the successful results of the initial phase of the programme, the parties involved have committed themselves to a follow-up programme from 2013.


Ecoshape, an initiative of Van Oord and Boskalis, is a consortium of private parties, public authorities and knowledge centres, intended to develop knowledge about using natural processes in marine engineering in order to offer comprehensive solutions for the benefit of society, nature, the economy and water safety.


Press Release, November 19, 2012