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Adaptive and Resilient Strategies for Low Lying Coastlines at Risk from Rising Sea Levels. ABSTRACT. The Lancashire coast is one of many vulnerable areas of low-lying coastline in Western Europe that is at risk from the adverse impacts of climate change. Sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 1000mm by 2100, along with significant long-term fresh water flooding as a result of extreme weather events. Physical changes resulting from flooding, erosion and salinization will have irreversible affects on existing ecological, social, economic and cultural infrastructures. Landscape architecture has the potential to contribute to the reshaping of the land/water interface in a positive way. This will enable existing landscapes to develop the ability to absorb and respond to long-term change as well as configure new relationships between land and water, which are ecologically rich and sustainable for human activity. This paper illustrates a series of case studies, developed by MA students, which envision future scenarios for the coastline through the employment of various adaptive and resilient strategies. At a time of change and uncertainty these approaches develop innovative ideas that not only build resilience, but also allow landscapes to respond to dynamic and volatile conditions, whilst maintaining functional integrity. The proposals range from developing responsive flood defence systems in space and time, sediment accretion systems to support new ecological systems, floating temporal communities, local self-sufficiency built on the changing relationship of water and land and micro and meso renewable energy systems. The common agenda in all these proposals focus on reimagining a sustainable ecological relationship between water, land and people.


Figure 1,2,3,4,5: Images taken at various points along the Lancashire coastline [Source: Johnston, 2011] Figure 6 (Bottom left): Embrace Change visualisation [King, 2007]


Although it is accepted that the coastal zone is a dynamic environment, 6000 years of relative sea level stability has lured us into a false sense of security. The tremendous growth of human settlements upon low-lying land is increasing the risk and vulnerability brought by predicted sea level rise and its associated conditions. Based on current statistics regarding population growth and sea level rise, Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central calculates that around 710 million people (12% of worlds population) will be displaced by 2100. With 65% of megacities positioned in coastal zones, this long lasting humanitarian crisis will begin before the end of this century. Research has shown that sea levels are rising 60% faster than the IPCC’s 2007 report had predicted, concluding that by 2100 the total rise could reach 2m. Stefan Rahmstorf [2012] of the Potsdam institute stated: “This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has underestimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.’ There is considerable uncertainty of the cause, course and magnitude of the changes in sea level but compounded with storm surges and the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events the lowest predicted rise will have many physical, biological and social consequences [Oliver-Smith, 2009]. Threats include coastal flooding, storm damage, eroding shorelines, loss of saltmarshes and mudflats, altered hydrology, habitat and species change, changes in water temperature and chemistry, impacts of human economy and health, infrastructure, land use and ultimately inundation of land and communities [Beever, 2009]. Miles of tidal stretches of rivers will become just as vulnerable as that on the direct coastline extending the risks further inland and beyond the flood plains. The challenge is to mitigate risk and create resilience through imaginative designs that maintain functionality and reduce vulnerability.

Figure 7: Mudflats at Sunderland Point [Source: Johnston 2012]


Figure 8: Room for the River [Source: Municipality of Nijmegen, 2011] The potential of Landscape Urbanism [Waldheim, 2006] as an applied critical theory is tested through the uniqueness of the English condition, where 80% of the population live in (sub)urban areas, 18.9% people live in rural areas, but where 76% of land in England is devoted to agriculture [DEFRA, 2012] of which 60% of the best agricultural land is 5m or less above sea level [National Trust, 2005]. The “Room for the River� programme, in the Netherlands shows a shift in attitude from technocratic water engineering (anthropocentric determinism) to integral and participatory water management, which regards the water system as a whole, integrating social, ecological and physical components (performance and heterogeneity).


The MA Landscape Architecture course provides co-operative study contextualized in the critical theories of Landscape Urbanism precedes an individuals’ strategic approach to addressing key issues at a location scale. Particular emphasis is placed on the processes which inform the relationship between anthropocentric and biocentric systems and how can these can be mapped and creatively manipulated to produce imaginative outcomes. Potential outcomes are imagined through the manipulation of process, systems and networks in time and space. Landscape performance is judged by function, ecology, organisation, resilience, heterogeneity and fluidity. The Lancashire coastal strip from Liverpool in the South to Morecombe Bay in the North is the primary staging for students to explore tangible responses to rising sea levels and river over capacity. The resulting scenarios played out against scientific data predictions, existing flood management strategies and the socio-economic and cultural diaspora offer a range of operational renditions of Landscape Urbanism. In particular, the uncertain future acts as a catalyst to challenge anthropological determinism. This provides the opportunity to engage with new ecological networks both individually and collectively in a consensual framework, which privileges frameworks over forms, where frameworks register as strategic organisations, dynamic infrastructures, provisional programmes and participatory processes. [Czerniak, 2001]. The following case studies explore the potential along the coastal strip, further information regarding these projects and can be found at embrace-changes.tumblr.com.

Figure 9: Survey information for the coastal site [Johnston, 2012]


Figure 10: Concept strategy for the Crisis creates Opportunity project [Johnston, 2012]

Crisis creates opportunity. This project identifies a landscape in crisis. Rising sea levels are changing not only the coastline but also large urban areas built around the river, creating an opportunity to establish new selfsustaining communities. Built on agricultural knowledge, the community manage the landscape and resources to create a mutually beneficial place to live, work and play. As a defence from the water is established, perceptions and fear levels change and reconnection with the water strategies can work towards achieving the aims of transforming a dying edge to bring back economic viability and activate the space again. Starting with the needs of the individual, the strategy works from a proposition that intelligent landscapes learn from the past whilst combing large scale issues with the demands of individualism to create sustainable futures. [Johnston, 2012].


Figure 11: Site analysis, The profane landscape [King, 2007]


Figure 12: The intervention strategy for the profane landscape project [Source: King, 2007] The Profane landscape. This project is not about the romantic/historic landscape but about environmental futures, it is not controlled and immutable but responsive and adaptable, it is not about individual goals but collective values. The intervention begins with a waterway system. Drains are enlarged and developed to form a new water-based infrastructure. Dikes are built to maintain a border between seawater and fresh. Each dike is higher than the last so the border moves in turn from one to the other as the sea level rises. Blue Energy plants take advantage of the saline/fresh border to generate power. Water is a fluid medium. The new geography is dynamic; territories need not maintain a fixed spatial relationship but are adaptable and transferable [King, 2007].


Figure 13, 14, 15, 16, 17: Visualisations of the seafront from the Fluvial Margins project [Source: Ware, 2011]


Figure 18: Demonstrating the strategy at local level, as a series of terraces. [Source: Ware, 2011] Fluvial Margins. The project proposes a series of biocentrically driven levees that aim to counteract and absorb potential sea level rise while maintaining a useful and necessary combination of urban settlements, agricultural productive and natural resources in the form of biocentric habitat. It has been designed for adaption. At this moment in time, no scientist can seem to put a figure on the rate at which sea levels are rising and in fact there are some people who believe it is a myth in that sea level rise in one location is merely offset by land raising in other parts of the world, all of which has evidence, none of which is definitive... [Ware, 2011]


Figure 19: Diagrammatic strategies explaining the Mad Wharf project [Source: Smith, 2010] Mad Wharf. This projects is set within a transient landscape that experiences a shift from dune scape to dune backlands and strategically programmed influences of fresh water and salt water. Water sources are provided in the form of constructed semi wet slacks and riparian buffer. The landscape is able to respond to increasing levels of water by evolving into salt marsh, which is intentionally accelerated through constructed components and forms an intelligent flood defence system. Existing tourism is largely the result of an extensively used coastal footpath will be redirected to avoid the dune ridges and now pass through the site. Tourism will continue to evolve in a more sustainable manner as the design fuses it together with a new form of saline agriculture. The complex processes that are programmed to occur are not derived from aesthetic decisions, and so a number of visual elements are introduced to bring awareness to these systems. The design will be realised through a number of phases, each of which is constructed at a pre-allocated time in response to changes in predicted ecological evolution. This allows a degree of control over the dynamics of the site without preventing changes from happening, and allows them to be used for anthropocentric interest [Smith 201


Figures Figure 1: Figure 2: Figure 3. Figure 4: Figure 5: Figure 6: Figure 7: Figure 8:

Warning sign at Sunderland Point (Johnston, 2011) View along the Lune estuary from Sunderland Point (Johnston, 2011) Power station at Heysham (Johnston, 2011) Road through the mudflats towards Sunderland Point (Johnston, 2011) Cockerham shoreline (Johnston, 2011) Embrace change visualisation (King, 2007) Mudflats at Sunderland Point (Johnston, 2012) Room for the River visualisation (Municipality of Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2001) Retrieved from http://www.waterfrontcenter.org/Awards/Awards2011/2011Awards.html Figure 9: Survey information for the coastal site of Heysham and Cockerham Flats (Johnston, 2012) Figure 10: Concept strategy for Crisis creates Opportunity project (Johnston, 2012) Figure 11: Site analysis from The Profane Landscape project (King, 2007) Figure 12: Intervention concept from the Profane Landscape (King, 2007) Figure 13: Visualisation to show the promenade over the sea defences from Fluvial Margins (Ware, 2011) Figure 14: Section and elevation visualisation to show the seafront from Fluvial Margins (Ware, 2011) Figure 15: The sunken plaza at the sea front from Fluvial Margins (Ware, 2011) Figure 16: The promenade and mudflats from Fluvial Margins (Ware, 2011) Figure 17: Diagram to explain the 3 sea level rise scenarios (Ware, 2011) Figure 18: Visualisation to explain the function of the terraced levees (Ware, 2011) Figure 19: Diagrammatic strategies to demonstrate the Mad Wharf project (Smith, 2010) References Beever, L.B. (2009): Climate Ready Estuaries: Vulnerabilities and Adaptations. 15th Annual Public Interest Environment Conference, Levin College of Law, University of Florida. Retrieved from http://www.swfrpc.org/content/Natural_Resources/Ecosystem_Services/Lee_County_Climate_C hange_Vulnerability_Assessment.pdf Czerniak, J. (2001) CASE: Downsview Park, Toronto (pp 12-23) Munich, Germany: Prestel Verlag DEFRA (2009) Land Use Policy Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, England: Angus, A., Burgess, P.J., Morris, J. and Lingard, J. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report Geneva, Switzerland: Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R.K and Reisinger, A. (eds.) King, S. (2007) The Profane Landscape Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, England. Johnston, K. (2012) Crisis creates Opportunity Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, England.


National Trust (2005) Shifting Shorelines: Living with a changing coastline London, England: Astron Oliver-Smith, A (2009) Responding to the local Challenges of Global Climate Change in the 21st Century Bonn, Germany: UNU institute for Environment and Human Security, Retrieved from http://www.ehs.unu.edu/file/get/4097 Smith, H. (2010) Mad Wharf Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, England. Waldheim, C. (2006) Landscape Urbanism Reader New York, USA: Princeton Architectural Press Ware, R. (2011) Fluvial Margins Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, England)


IFLA 2013 Paper Submission MMU