The North Sea erodes the western coastline of South Holland every year, and every five years, the executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment conducted a dredging program to reinforce and maintain the country’s coastllne. Until last year. In the latter half of 2011, the country developed a plan for “building with nature” instead of fighting or even surrendering to the tides.
Constructed over eight months in 2011, the Zandmotor, or Sand Engine, is a man made peninsula that gives the wind, waves, and currents sand to slowly rebuild South Holland’s coast. The mass is hook shaped, based on studies of the coastline and currents. Trailing suction hopper dredgers (THSD) deposited 21.5 million cubic meters (about 28 million cubic yards or 2.8 million dumptruck loads) of sand to build the one kilometer long by two kilometer wide Zandmotor.
The country and its team of engineers, construction workers, and researchers hope the up-front investment of time and resources will make additional sand replenishment unnecessary for the next twenty years as nature shapes the coastline. Goals for the project are better flood protection, broader and wider coastal recreation areas, and increased knowledge about strengthening the coast. The Dutch see the Zandmotor as a pilot program and hope the concept can be rolled out to other places.
For now, the country’s philosophy of building with nature has resulted in a beautiful beach area that is already widely used.
Watch a video of the Zandmotor’s construction and a flythrough of the virtual model below: