Spatial Design Thinking in Coastal Defence Systems: Overtopping Dikes in Southend-On-Sea

Luca Iuorio*, Davide Wüthrich, Djimin Teng, Fransje Hooimeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Coastal dikes have been built for millennia to protect inhabited lands from exceptional high tides and storm events. Currently, many European countries are developing specific programs to integrate the construction of new dikes (or the raising of existing ones) into the built environment to face sea level rising. Technical difficulties in succeeding in this operation are questioning the paradigm of protection for the long term, pointing out the need for alternative strategies of adaptation that are not yet fully explored. This paper elaborates on innovative models to deal with coastal flooding, presenting the results of an interdisciplinary research and design process for the case-study of Southend-on-Sea (UK). Detailed numerical simulations are used to develop a spatial strategy to accommodate water during extreme events, introducing different prototypes of dike designs that include seawalls, enhanced roughness through rock and stepped revetments, as well as vegetation. The overall goal is to push forward the traditional approach of planning water protection infrastructure within the solely field of civil engineering. It elaborates on the integration of the disciplines of spatial design and engineering and presents novel advances in terms of spatial design for the revetment of overtopping dikes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • engineering
  • spatial design
  • interdisciplinary
  • coastal dikes
  • roughness


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