Building with Nature: Add nature to meet societal needs Workshop Building with Nature – Ecoshape 17 March 2017

In Energy & Environment, Water by Astrid Seegers

Article | 2017/03/30 | Astrid Seegers & Alexander van Dorssen

The Centre for Liveable Cities and the Dutch Ecoshape consortium, with the support of Deltares and Witteveen+Bos, organized a workshop on Building with Nature on 17 March 2017. Ecoshape is a Dutch consortium of engineering firms, knowledge institutions, government agencies and NGO’s. Aim is to develop hydraulic infrastructure that incorporates nature into its design. The four themes of Ecoshape are: nature based flood defences; sustainable port development; ecosystem restoration; and resilient delta cities.

A number of Singaporean agencies were present at the workshop: National Parks Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing and Development Board and the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC). Ecoshape Director Henk Nieboer, introduced the Ecoshape consortium, the Building with Nature philosophy and shared a few projects. One of these projects was the ‘sand engine’ constructed in front of the Dutch coast. Here, a large amount of sand is deposited at one location in front of the shoreline. Natural currents spread this sand along the coastline which enhances the strength of the dunes that provide coastal protection. Beside the sand engine, he also stressed the need for collaboration for a successful project. For example between public-private, public-public and public-NGO organizations.

Fokko van der Groot, ‎Program Manager of Ecoshape and Environmental Engineer at Boskalis, shared about the Ecoshape project along the coast of Northern Java, in the local community of Demak. The local communities were experiencing widespread coastal erosion. Through a participative approach where the community was involved to design the protection system, semi-permeable dams were constructed to stimulate sedimentation an reclaim land in a natural way. Helena Hulsman from Deltares, one of the partners of Ecoshape, focused on projects were Building with Nature could be incorporated in Singapore. The most important take-away was that ‘Building with Nature’ does not necessarily have to be done from scratch; existing infrastructure can be tweaked in order for it to coincide with nature and support the natural processes.

More information?
If you would like to learn more about Ecoshape and Building with Nature, please contact the Advisors for Innovation, Technology and Science from the Holland Innovation Network at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Singapore via e-mail:

Website Netherlands Embassy: Website Ecoshape – Building with Nature: