Designing sustainable sea defences: developing principles for procedures, processes and practice

Walter Menteth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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To advance study into more sustainable, effective, efficient and better future spatial design responses to climate change induced rises in sea level in urban locations a collaborative international design research programme, focused on an archetypical investigation of Portsmouth, UK and entitled ‘The Portsmouth Elephant Cage’, was held in two stages over 2016-2017.
The programme’s aim was to evaluate, hypothesise, consult and shift the understanding of potential design opportunities for coastal defences. It also aimed to further inform design practice, advance expertise and build capacity for achieving better contextual and more sustainable global solutions for urban and regional resilience in comparable coastal cities.
This was a co-creation process founded on collaborative cross-disciplinary professional working practices, consultation and the opportunity these offer. The first stage was launched through a unique open Anglo-Dutch design contest procedure inviting emergent design professionals from architecture, landscape architecture, engineering and planning to engage with international coastal design experts on propositions for public presentation. A scheme already prepared by the water management authority, based on ‘holding the line’, was critiqued and teams were encouraged to innovate in developing alternative polemical propositions for addressing sea level rises applied along Portsmouth’s southern frontage.
This paper, arising from the first stage, outlines the context, objectives, process and procedures and collaborations underpinning the programme with initial reporting and reflections on some emerging spatial design principles for universal strategic use. The application of these principles subsequently in a unique coastal design proposition is then also referenced.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving and Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationAn Environmental Critique of Design and Building Practices, Locally and Globally
EditorsGraham Cairns, Michael Young
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUCL Press
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
EventLiving and Sustainability: An environmental critique of design and building practices, locally and globally - The Keyworth Centre, London Southbank University, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Feb 201710 Feb 2017;

Publication series

NameAMPS Proceedings Series 9
ISSN (Print)2398-9467


ConferenceLiving and Sustainability
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Portsmouth
  • sustainability
  • resilience
  • architecture
  • engineering
  • Infrastructure
  • coastal
  • co-creation
  • planning
  • Process
  • procedures
  • management


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