sand motor
Objectifying Building with Nature strategies

Towards scale-resolving policies





By definition, Building with Nature solutions utilise services provided by the natural system and/or provide new opportunities to that system. As a consequence, such solutions are sensitive to the status of, and interact with the surrounding system. A thorough understanding of the ambient natural system is therefore necessary to meet the required specifications and to realise the potential interactions with that system. In order to be adopted beyond the pilot scale, the potential impact of multiple BwN solutions on the natural and societal systems of a region need to be established. This requires a ‘reality check’ of the effectiveness of multiple, regional-scale applications in terms of social and environmental costs and benefits. Reality checking will help establish the upscaling potential of a certain BwN measure when addressing a larger-scale issue. Conversely, it might reveal to what extent specific smaller-scale measures are suitable in light of larger regional-scale issues. This paper presents a stepwise method to approach a reality check on BwN solutions, based on the Frame of Reference method described in a companion paper (de Vries et al., 2020), and illustrates its use by two example cases. The examples show that a successful pilot project is not always a guarantee of wider applicability and that a broader application may involve dilemmas concerning environment, policy and legislation.

How to Cite

de Vries, M., van Koningsveld, M., Aarninkhof, S., & de Vriend, H. (2021). Objectifying Building with Nature strategies: Towards scale-resolving policies. Research in Urbanism Series, 7, 51–72.



Author Biographies

Mindert de Vries, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences

Mindert de Vries has a background in ecology. He is a specialist nature-based solutions at Deltares. He was leading a building with nature research group on the University of Applied Sciences Hogeschool Zeeland and is now associate professor and program manager at Hogeschool Van Hall Larenstein interested in climate change adaptation of muddy coastal landscapes

Mark van Koningsveld, Delft University of Technology

Mark van Koningsveld is part time professor Ports and Waterways at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. In a complementary function, Van Koningsveld is R&D and Innovation Manager at Royal Van Oord. He has a broad track record in the design and implementation of nature based solutions and was a member of EcoShape; first as a member of the programme board, later as member of the management team.

Stefan Aarninkhof, Delft University of Technology

Stefan Aarninkhof is professor of Coastal Engineering at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands). Before joining university in 2016, Stefan spent 20 years at a research institute (Delft Hydraulics, nowadays Deltares) and in dredging industry (Boskalis). He has a distinct interest in understanding nearshore processes, to enable design and implementation of nature-based solutions for coastal engineering and management.

Huib de Vriend, Delft University of Technology

Professor Huib de Vriend is a retired civil engineer, former director science of Deltares and Professor emeritus of River Engineering and Eco-hydraulics at Delft University of Technology. From 2007 to 2013 he also led ‘Building with Nature’, an innovation programme executed by a consortium of government agencies, universities, research organisations, consultants and engineering contractors.


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