Building with Nature

Climate change, sea level rises and natural disasters are all unavoidable. Deltas are particularly susceptible to these phenomena, which is why coastal defences play such an important role in these areas. Experience has taught us natural solutions are more resilient to withstanding disturbances. So how can we make use of nature as efficiently as possible with coastal defences, in order to ensure we can realise safety as well as opportunities for recreation? The Building with Nature research group has been looking into these issues.

Natural coastal defence
The Netherlands mostly has a sandy coastline, which consists of beaches and dunes. A coastline like this can be maintained by the interaction of sand, wind, waves and currents. One example of a Building with Nature approach is replenishing sand shortages, after which we can leave maintaining the coast to nature, with the added advantage of the beach also being available for recreational activities.

The Netherlands also has dikes in place to serve as coastal defences, in addition to the sandy coastlines. The Building with Nature approach can also play an important role here, for example through the construction of artificial oyster reefs, or through the recovery of marshes, resulting in a reduction of wave attacks on the dike and which also increases the coast’s natural values. The research group is also conducting research into increasing the natural values of the actual dikes, for example by conducting research into the effects of different materials and structures on the dike revetments.

Knowledge system
The knowledge acquired through research will be made available and distributed via online knowledge system Delta Expertise. This will ensure important players in coastal management, such as Rijkswaterstaat, will always be able to make use of the available knowledge. The HZ Delta Academy’s education will also be enriched with any knowledge acquired from practical research.

The research is conducted on location, in the field or in a laboratory. Two professors, teacher researchers, project employees and students all work together within this research group. Dr. Tjeerd Bouma and Dr. Joost Stronkhorst are professors within this research group. The research projects are carried out together with Imares, Deltares, Nioz and Rijkswaterstaat.  


Joost Stronkhorst Building with Nature professor
Anneke van den Brink Building with Nature researcher
João Salvador de Paiva Building with Nature researcher
Wietse van de Lageweg Earth Scientist


Polder2C's: Living lab Hedwige-Prosperpolder

Building with Nature


Building with Nature

​Added value with mussels

Building with Nature

View all projects