The multidisciplinary research program NatureCoast focused on the Sand Motor, an artificial hook-shaped peninsula close to The Hague. The Sand Motor is a large sandy peninsula, constructed in 2011 on the Dutch North Sea coast near The Hague. This unprecedented pilot project involved placing 21.5 million m3 of sand on and in front of the beach with the aim that it would spread along the coast.

Sand nourishment itself is not a new method to prevent coastline erosion. In fact, the Netherlands has had a structural nourishment program since the early 1990s. However, the Sand Motor is a unique beach nourishment due to its size, the design philosophy behind it, and its multifunctionality. The Sand Motor combines the primary function of coastal protection with the creation of a new natural landscape that also provides new leisure opportunities. Because of its innovations, the Sand Motor has triggered considerable political and scientific interest from all over the world.

Video 5 years Sand Motor

Interdisciplinary research: NatureCoast

NatureCoast is the largest research program that focused on the Sand Motor, which started in April 2013 and ran until 2018. NatureCoast was a multidisciplinary research program consisting of 12 PhD’s and three Postdocs involving six universities in The Netherlands. The program was carried out by a large consortium of knowledge institutes, and the research was conducted in cooperation with end-users from private companies, research institutes and governmental organizations. The Dutch Technology Foundation (NWO-TTW) supplied the largest share of the project funds. NatureCoast researchers collaborated actively with researchers from the NEMO project, who studied the behavior of the Delfland coast, including the Sand Motor.


The knowledge development within the NatureCoast project focuses on six different disciplines: coastal safety, dune formation, marine ecology, terrestrial ecology and governance. Each discipline is covered by two PhDs at two different universities. A key role of the three postdocs is the integration between the six science projects, striving to develop interdisciplinary knowledge obtained at the Sand Motor. The post-docs also investigate the feasibility of such a unique ‘Building with Nature’ concept worldwide given the knowledge developed at the Sand Motor, but also incorporating the knowledge gained from previous coastal development projects along the Dutch coast.


Interdisciplinary research is crucial to support integrated coastal protection
solutions and to put the lessons learned into practice. In the knowledge article and book below all information can be found about both the innovative mega-nourishment, the Sand Motor, and about the uniquely interdisciplinary NatureCoast program. Concrete research findings are shared about the Sand Motor’s behavior and about the societal context of the pilot Sand Motor. The book also reflects on the merits of collaboration and integration within a multidisciplinary research program.

You can find a comprehensive summary of the NatureCoast research findings at the Naturecoast knowledge pages