Anne Loes Nillesen

Founding Director

Designing for water inclusive cities and regions

August 17, 2018
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Deltas, located at the transition zones between open seas and rivers, offer fertile land, natural seaports, inland water connections and fresh water. As a result, they provide ideal locations for settlement and trade. Across the globe, population growth and rapid development result in high urbanization and population densities in delta’s. At the same time, these areas are often prone to water-related challenges such as flooding; subsidence, sea level rise, droughts and increased river discharges as well as man-made interventions such as draining, impermeable surfaces and the removal of natural discharge canals, add to water-safety risks. Some of these factors are triggered or amplified by climate change.

Designs and strategies that are currently developed and implemented have to be robust and adaptable. They should accommodate for future economic and demographic developments and additional (un)expected effects from climate change. Instead of developing and implementing fixed blueprints, this requires entirely new, holistic design approaches that focus on adaptive pathways for development. Research by design approaches, in which multidisciplinary teams pivot around designers, address this challenge.

When designing for resilience, many urban design interventions are available for incorporation as building blocks in flood risk strategies. In her lecture, Anne Loes Nillesen will show several successful examples of urban flood risk interventions on different scales, varying from amphibious houses to integrated sea barrier designs and resilient coastal cities.

Successful interventions cannot be simply copied from one location to another: context is essential for their viability. Anne Loes will show examples of urban flood risk development strategies from the Dutch Delta Programme, the Bangladesh Deltaplan and the Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities Asia project (also Bangladesh). She will demonstrate how similar design approaches lead to completely different design strategies, as a result of different contexts.

Anne Loes Nillesen is founding director of urban design firm Defacto Architecture and Urbanism, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Defacto specializes in urban research and design in the domain of water and flood risk management. With her office, Anne Loes worked on complex, large-scale urban design and flood risk management assignments such as the Dutch Delta Programme and Bangladesh Deltaplan, and several regional and local scale adaptation projects, amongst which a barrier design for Houston. She currently works on the ‘Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities Asia’ project for Khulna, Bangladesh.

In addition to running Defacto, Anne Loes founded the Climate Adaptation Lab and Delta Interventions integral Msc graduate studios at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Faculty of Architecture. As a PhD candidate, she investigated the relation between urban design and flood risk strategies. She graduated with honors as an Architect and Urban designer from TU Delft, and undertook postgraduate studies in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam.

Anne Loes published books such as ‘Amphibious Housing in the Netherlands’, ‘Delta Interventions: Design and Engineering in Urban Water Landscapesand developed the ‘Climate Adaptation Game’, a multi-player board game.

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