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Ecoshape, Building with Nature opens office

Ecoshape, Building with Nature has moved into its new premises in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. Officiating at the inauguration ceremony was Annemieke Nijhof, Director-General for Water at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

Building with Nature’s innovation programme is of major significance to the Dutch marine engineering sector, traditionally one of the key players in the global market. By setting up the EcoShape, Building with Nature foundation, Dutch marine contractors hope to capitalise on their early work in ‘sustainable coastal, delta and river engineering’. A sound research programme is crucial to that aim.

Much of the earth’s population lives and works in coastal, delta and river areas and requires protection against the rising sea level. There is also a need to give rivers more room to flood and to expand port capacity. Sustainability and ecological principles increasingly set the standard in these areas.

The Building with Nature expertise programme was set up to facilitate innovation. The Dutch marine contracting sector hopes the programme will set off a transition from the current defence-related design methods to a new design practice that focuses on maximising the potential of natural systems.

The Building with Nature mission is to develop new, sustainable design concepts for coastal, delta and river areas that satisfy infrastructure and economic requirements while being based on ecological opportunities. Known as ‘ecodynamic design’, this approach involves research and case studies that furnish scientifically proven knowledge and tools.

Building with Nature must help to break through the impasses facing major marine contracting and infrastructure projects as a result of stricter and more complex environmental legislation. The programme will enhance the Dutch marine contracting sector and keep the Netherlands on the world map as a leading marine contracting nation.

EcoShape was set up by dredging companies Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster N.V. and Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors bv. Its members include the following representatives of the Dutch marine contracting sector: VBKO (sector representative organisation), Deltares, Imares, NIOZ, NIOO-CEME and Astron-Lofar (expertise centres), Witteveen Bos, DHV and Haskoning (consulting firms), the Dutch universities of Delft, Wageningen and Twente, industrial operators Shell Global Solutions and IHC-Holland, and two government agencies, RWSBouwdienst and the City of Dordrecht.

The consortium members will be contributing a total of approximately EUR 13 million over a five-year period. The Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management will provide another EUR 13 million in co-financing, made available from the Balkenende Government’s innovation fund.

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