Finalists announced for Witteveen+Bos Sustainable Design Principle thesis award

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This year Witteveen+Bos launched a new thesis award for university students, with our ‘sustainable design principles’ (SDPs) as the overarching theme. One of the seven sustainable design principles at Witteveen+Bos is key to each edition, with this year’s theme being ‘Building with Nature’. With this award, Witteveen+Bos aims to stimulate the next generation of advisers and engineers to engage in sustainable design. The thesis award is being presented for the first time this year to mark our 75th anniversary.

Building with nature (BwN)

The ‘Building with Nature’ principle involves using natural processes to strengthen the design and achieve sustainable future-proof solutions. Working with and not against nature. This can prevent unintended negative side-effects and create extra benefits, such as nature benefits.

The independent jury members* made an initial selection of the submitted theses based on the following criteria: 1) contributes to and/or has impact on the continued development of the Witteveen+Bos sustainable design principle ‘Building with nature’, 2) connects explicitly with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 3) is innovative, and 4) is socially applicable. Five finalists were then selected.

The five finalists are introduced below (in alphabetical order):

Nadine van den Berg (TU Delft)

Urban Waterbodies: Stimulating an ecosystem resilient city by integrating climate sensitivity in human-oriented urban design in Houston

In her thesis on the social problems connected with climate change, Nadine focuses on increasing the resilience of the ecosystem in urban environments. The research focuses on the current shortcomings in cities’ approach to urban development; the potential of nature-based solutions as an alternative for grey solutions; and the integration of climate-sensitive urban design in the built environment of Houston.

Anouk Fransen (Utrecht University)

Biodiversity, a ‘regrettable’ solution for climate change? A discourse analysis on the governing of biodiversity by transnational climate initiatives.

Anouk’s thesis contributes to the ‘Building with Nature’ design principle by highlighting an alternative, more critical perspective that addresses various risks associated with this design principle. For this reason, this research study suggests ‘build with nature, but do so carefully’.

Pauline Janssen (TU Delft)

Towards a nature-based solution for the Brouwersdam beach in the Netherlands

Pauline’s research concerns the preservation of the beach at Brouwersdam using nature-inclusive solutions. The study aims to design nature-oriented solutions for the continuing erosion and coastline shift affecting the Brouwersdam beach. The design approach of this research is based on the BwN design steps. A thorough analysis of the physical, ecological, and social system is followed by formulating a Statement of Requirements for the design. Designs are identified, evaluated, and iteratively selected based on this Statement of Requirements.

René de Koning (TU Delft)

Effectiveness of Mangroves in Flood Risk Reduction

In his thesis, René has combined hydraulic engineering (flood risk) with ecology (mangroves) and economics (both financial and social considerations in the form of ecosystem services). He hopes this will contribute to Building with Nature in general, and address practical considerations, such as the probabilistic approach to mangroves in flood risk management, and a schematic model with which managers can quickly and easily obtain an initial indication about whether mangroves are economically effective in reducing flood risk when combined with structures such as a dyke.

Vic Lagrouw and Peter Munnen (HAS)

Climate robust landscapes

Peter (ecologist) and Vic (landscape design) worked together from their two different backgrounds on a research study into climate robust landscapes - design-oriented research into a healthier balance between soil, water, nature, and agriculture. Their research shows that using the right agricultural forms in the right place creates a resilient agricultural system. Ecological corridors of crops with a natural function contribute to connectivity and biodiversity in the landscape. The result is a cohesive landscape in which nature and agriculture benefit from the same groundwater level. This creates a climate-robust and future-proof landscape.

The winner will be announced during a digital event on 16 December 2021.

*The independent jury this year comprises Dr Ralph Lindeboom (TU Delft), Dr Charon Zondervan (WUR), dr. ir. Arjen van Nieuwenhuijzen (Witteveen+Bos), dr. ing . Sebastiaan Schep (Witteveen+Bos), Tom Wilms (Witteveen+Bos), and Witteveen+Bos CSR coordinator Rosanne Hamers.