The project

Building dikes is in the Dutch DNA but there are more ways of protecting densely-populated cities in coastal areas from flooding. There are alternatives like Building with Nature, which draws on the forces of nature. Applications include creating soft, green banks which attract birds and fish, or a tidal park that is submerged at high tide and falls dry at low tide, reducing the flood risk. Cities like Rotterdam and Dordrecht are enhancing flood risk management and the quality of life in the city by improving natural and leisure facilities.

Our role and the results

As an Ecoshape partner and in collaboration with Witteveen+Bos, Deltares is working on tidal banks in the Nassau Dock in Rotterdam in a project that clearly demonstrates how banks can be used to mitigate waves. Construction has started in the Mallegat Park in Rotterdam of a breakwater that will result in a natural tidal area covering an area of 1.5 hectares. The new area will be a major leisure attraction. It will make the people of Rotterdam more aware of the ongoing struggle of low-lying areas against the water.

Construction work has begun on a tidal bank for a new residential area in Dordrecht. Rushes, reeds and willows will grow here. An appealing habitat for birds, fish, amphibians and insects will take shape. Several Building with Nature solutions are possible, such as willow forests, living mussel beds and oyster reefs that reduce sand erosion on the banks. The applications can both act as natural breakwaters and improve the quality of the water.

Practical in use

‘Building with Nature in the city' is a project with major potential for climate-adaptive coastal cities around the world because it delivers solutions that are concrete, feasible and sustainable. The first steps to export the product to countries outside the Netherlands are expected in 2016.

Sharing knowledge about this type of flood risk management is also an important factor. There is an online web presentation with comprehensive fact sheets about the possible applications, and a wiki.

Victor Beumer en Walter de Vries
Solutions that enhance flood risk management, water quality and quality of life make cities more resilient and generate a great deal of value for cities in coastal areas worldwide. The Netherlands is leading the way and I expect we will soon be implementing our ideas in other countries.
Victor Beumer (left)
Landscape ecologist, Deltares
Deltares contributes relevant knowledge of the tidal system in a manner that can be used by designers working on various tidal parks in the Rotterdam region.
Walter de Vries (right)
Programme Leader for Rivier als Getijdenpark (River as a Tidal Park)


In this project Deltares worked together with the following partners:

Gemeente Rotterdam
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Victor Beumer
Victor Beumer
Expert Urban Water and Subsurface
+31 (0)88 335 7786
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Deltares Annual Report 2015