Adapting at the Water Edge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


With the rise of extreme weather events and with a tendency of cities to embrace their waterfronts as places for human activity, the resiliency at the water’s edge is becoming a critical issue. The paper argues that in order for architecture and the built environment to be truly resilient, it should not only focus on resisting catastrophic events through engineered means, but also actively engage with its larger natural and cultural ecology to facilitate a responsive approach to disruptions. This involves being more closely connected to the dynamics of these ecologies and allowing for active adaptation to changes in the environment. The paper also raises questions about the nature of the negotiated territories that occupy the boundary between land and water in urban areas and the role that architecture and design can play in addressing resiliency at the water’s edge. How can we design for resilience without resorting to the heavy-handed control of unpredictable events? As the natural and constructed worlds meet, there is a need to control the boundary (interface) between them by preventing what we perceive to be undesirable effects. Desired impermeability of a boundary that separates the constructed environments from the natural, and our perception of what is deemed undesirable, might need a second look. That interface is what generates some of the most interesting questions pertaining to the humanity’s relationship to technology. This paper will discuss projects and issues raised by some recent work by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), a proposal for Tencent Net City by Jonathan Ward (NBBJ) that relies on the Sponge City model, the City of Hamburg HafenCity, and a proposal to prevent further erosion of Venice foundations by Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University that proposes a use of a new class of material produced by synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSustainable Development Goals Series
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameSustainable Development Goals Series
VolumePart F2789
ISSN (Print)2523-3084
ISSN (Electronic)2523-3092

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Case studies
  • Climate resiliency
  • Flood prevention
  • Resilience
  • Soft infrastructure
  • Water/land boundary


Dive into the research topics of 'Adapting at the Water Edge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this