The Netherlands faces a significant flood risk task. In order to remain a safe place to live the Netherlands has to upgrade its extensive flood risk protection system. This results in an elevation and reinforcement task for many of the Netherlands water barriers. When those barriers are positioned in an open landscape, the technical reinforcement is often easy to embed specially. However, many barriers have been built over the years making the reinforcement into a challenging spatial assignment. This article shows different case study examples of a research by design study (performed in the broader context of the Dutch Delta programme) that explores integral design solutions for flood risk and spatial (re)development. The Houston Galveston Bay case study demonstrates the international applicability of the research by design method.

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Author notes

1. Anne Loes Nillesen is founding director of research and design firm DEFACTO Architecture and Urbanism. With her company, she specializes in urban research and design in the domain of water and flood risk management. She has worked on large-scale complex urban design and flood risk management projects, such as the Dutch Delta Programme, the Bangladesh Deltaplan and several local scale adaptation projects, among which a land barrier design for Houston. For more information on projects and publications, see