Technology and system knowledge


Building with Nature requires knowledge about specific concepts and technology to design its Nature-based Solutions. In addition, knowledge about the ecosystem, social system, and physical system is essential to make Building with Nature work. Key aspects to consider:

  • Large scale system analysis and understanding of the driving processes (physical & ecological) and natural dynamics
  • Building with Nature concepts that fit different landscapes
  • Building with Nature design approaches and (impact) assessment tools

To use any technology in a proper way, understanding of how it works as well as when and where to use it is essential. This is the case for a traditional dike, where the used materials and dimensions are determined by certain boundary conditions, such as wave climate and soil stability, and it is even more the case when applying Building with Nature. While the interaction between a traditional solution such as a conventional dike and the surrounding natural system might be limited and often not considered, Building with Nature is developed to create added value to the system it is placed in, including the physical, ecological and societal system. This makes Building with Nature intimately entangled to its surroundings: fitting or using its dynamics, focusing on multifunctionality, providing innovative solutions and, above all, context-specific in its approach. To achieve and improve this bond between the Building with Nature Technology, and the system it operates in, it is essential to understand:

  • the key functioning and interrelations of the physical, ecological and societal system;
  • the functioning of the Building with Nature Technology itself; and
  • how the Building with Nature Technology functions in and interacts with the specifics of the system and landscape

These points already highlight the importance of thinking from a ‘larger’ physical, ecological and social system perspective, which is a key component of the Building with Nature philosophy and the five basic steps that have been defined to design Building with Nature. Over the years, EcoShape has collected and developed a vast amount of system knowledge and the functioning of various solutions that apply Building with Nature. Main elements of this knowledge cover the functioning of these solutions, the Building with Nature Concepts. These Concepts provide guidance on where and how specific solutions can be included in a design. To assist in the assessment and evaluation, also a number of Tools and detailed Case descriptions are available within this enabler section. The BwN approach, Concepts, Tools and Case description can assist in developing resilient, multi-functional, context-specific and innovative designs that deliver across a range of Sustainable Development Goals.

Even though much progress has been made on expanding the knowledge of the Building with Nature Technology in different landscapes and systems, the evidence base and experience is still smaller than for traditional solutions, predominantly because successful Building with Nature requires a context-specific approach. Further expanding the evidence base through research projects and pilots will help to improve our understanding what the suitability and limitations of different Building with Nature Concepts are at different locations and derive further lessons on how to approach the design process to bond technology and systems understanding to successfully apply Building with Nature in project development.