Urban dunes: Towards BwN design principles for dune formation along urbanized shores

J. van Bergen, J. Mulder, S. Nijhuis, D. Poppema, K. Wijnberg, M. Kuschnerus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Sandy shores worldwide suffer from coastal erosion due to a lack of sediment input and sea-level rise. In response, coastal sand nourishments are executed using ‘Building with Nature’ techniques (BwN), in which the sand balance is amplified and natural dynamics are instrumental in the redistribution of sand, cross- and alongshore. These nourishments contribute to the growth of beaches and dunes, serving various design objectives (such as flood safety, nature, and recreation). Nevertheless, human interference (such as buildings and traffic) along urbanized sandy shores may have significant, yet poorly understood, effects on beach and dune development. Better insight is required into the interplay of morphological, ecological and urban processes to support Aeolian BwN processes for dune formation and contribute to the sustainable design of urbanized coastal zones. This paper aims to bridge the gap between coastal engineering and urban design by formulating design principles for BwN along urbanized sandy shores, combining nourishments, natural dune formation and urban development on a local scale to strengthen the coastal buffer. The first part of the paper analyses sedimentation processes in the (built) sea-land interface and identifies spatial mechanisms that relate coastal occupation to dune formation. Hence a preliminary set of design principles is derived by manipulating wind-driven sediment transport for BwN dune formation after nourishment. In the second part of the paper, these principles are applied and contextualized in two case-studies to compare their capability for BwN in different coastal profiles: the vast, rural, geomorphologically high dynamic profile of a mega-nourishment (Sand Motor); versus the compact, highly urbanized, profile(s) of a coastal resort (Noordwijk). Conclusions reflect on the applicability of BwN design principles within different coastal settings (dynamics, urbanity) and spatial arrangements facilitating BwN dune formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-127
JournalResearch in Urbanism Series
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Vol. 7 (2021): Building with Nature perspectives: Cross-disciplinary BwN approaches in coastal regions. ISBN 978-94-6366-379-3


  • Building with Nature
  • Nourishment
  • dune formation
  • urban coast
  • design principles


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