From Landscape to Landscape. Multifunctional adaptation strategies for the Scheldt estuary
In recent years, processes of urbanisation have been changing the face of the world as we know it. A whole new landscape is being built, one with many more challenges and externalities than the previous one.
Besides the correlation that these intense urbanisation processes have with climate change, more subtly, they relate to a conceptual separation of the natural and built environment: as of today, socio-economic growth cannot be met without environmental degradation, and while many efforts have already been made towards its conservation, none has proved effective on a global and continental scale.
A reason behind this ineffectiveness lies in a “weak” understanding of the concept of sustainability, in which environment, society and economy are loosely interchangeable. Furthermore, the current administrative division of territories poses yet another challenge to the management of ecosystems which often have a cross-border nature.
This thesis proposes a different perspective on environmental conservation, one that does not see the built environment as opposed to the natural one. Instead, it aims for a “strong” and cross-border sustainable urbanisation that can only happen if in line with environmental and social demands.
In order to do so, the hypothesis of multifunctional and multi-actor urbanisation are developed and applied to the context of the Scheldt estuary, at the border of the Netherlands and Belgium. Multi-functionality refers to the possibility of having multiple and different functions (environmental, social and economic) within single spatial developments. Multi-actor refers to the complementary need to include multiple and different stakeholders in the decision-making process, respective to the multiple functions implemented.