Coastal defences: social utility, imagination and justice

Simm, J.D. (2009) Coastal defences: social utility, imagination and justice. In: ICE Coasts, Marine Structures and Breakwaters 2009, 16-18 September 2009, EICC, Scotland.

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New methods are being developed for the assessment of the condition of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) defence systems in relation to their likely engineering performance and consequent fragility. However, it is being increasingly acknowledged that, in addition to their FCERM engineering utility, coastal defence systems can offer significant amenity and aesthetic value and contribute to wider ‘quality of life’ objectives. However, this can pose a challenge when seeking to deliver solutions which meet the requirements for flood and coastal defence but are also socially just. This paper sets out a theoretical framework within which these issues can be understood, drawing on literature and on interviews conducted by the author both with coastal engineering practitioners and with community members and activists. The framework – a trinitarian blend of Order, Imagination and Justice (Gorringe, 2002) – reflects both Vitruvius’ architectural principles (strength, utility and beauty) and insights drawn from key thinkers in sociology, psychology (Maslow) and philosophy. The paper sets out some initial thinking on how this framework might be applied in practice by engineers and what kinds of features might be important to include in designs. At the previous ICE breakwaters conference, Cruickshank et al (2005) presented a paper on their experiences with the design of a housing development on the south coast of England. In this, they reflected on the challenges of trying to integrate engineering and architectural thinking in the design of coastal defences. The present paper seeks to build on these earlier reflections. As well as examining various theories that might be used as the basis for inclusion of social dimensions in our engineering design, it draws on research data gathered in semi-structured interviews with both coastal residents and engineering practitioners.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Floods > Coastal erosion and flooding
Floods > General
Coasts > General
Divisions: Floods
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2020 09:48
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2020 09:48

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