Building With Nature: Sand Motor

Deltas and low-lying coastal areas are constantly faced with threat from the sea. Traditionally, the Netherlands has embraced this threat rather than confronting it. The key is to work with nature by using the natural power of the sea. The Sand Motor is a prime example of 'building with nature'.

Sand Motor peninsula

Sand Motor peninsula

Innovative method for coastal protection

The Sand Motor has become an international icon of innovation. Countries including Peru, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy and Jamaica are now planning on using this sand engine strategy. Water experts around the globe are looking into the Dutch 'Building with Nature' techniques.

Novel approach

The Sand Motor showcases a novel approach to sand supplementation that is cost-effective and augments coastal defences. Rather than pumping sand onto the beaches, the wind, waves, and currents were given free reign.

The power of nature’s elemental forces was harnessed in an intelligent way to distribute the sand along the shoreline. This reinforces the coastline in a natural way and creates a dynamic area for nature and recreation.

New peninsula

The Dutch first experimented with the sand engine to protect the fragile Dutch coastline. In 2013, a new peninsula was created by pump dredgers just off the coast near the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam.  The project cost 70 million euros and has a surface of about one km² and a volume of 21 million cubic meters of sand, and is bigger than 256 football fields.

The ideas for 'Building with Nature' were first coined by Dutch engineer Ronald Waterman in the 1980s.

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