Bringing Concrete to Life - Applying Principles of Reconciliation Ecology in Urban Waterfronts

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Open to the public
Start Date
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With two-thirds of the human population concentrated around coastlines, accelerated coastal development and changes to natural coastlines are inevitable. Over the course of time, natural coastlines undergo severe changes, and in many cases are completely overtaken by man-made infrastructure such as ports, coastal defense measures, power plants, industrial facilities, and residential properties. Today, over 22,000 km of European coastlines are artificial, literally paved with coastal infrastructure. Further development is expected in the future. As most marine flora and fauna reside in coastal areas, anthropogenic changes to coastlines are one of the key reasons for loss of coastal habitats, and for significant changes in species assemblage, richness, and biodiversity.

While coastal infrastructure such as seawalls or breakwaters add significant amounts of hard substrate open to colonization by marine organisms, these man-made structures do not support similar species assemblages to those of natural coastal and marine habitats, and are often associated with nuisance and invasive species. These differences are greatly associated to design features related to high inclination, low structural complexity, and high homogeneity, all of which are rarely found in natural habitats.

To date, coastal and marine infrastructure have been designed and built with little or no consideration to marine life developing on them. As a result, the ability of these structures to provide ecosystem services similar to those offered by natural habitats is severely compromised. The seminar will present an innovative approach, of planning and retrofitting coastal and marine infrastructure using ecologically sensitive design and construction technologies that enhance their ability to provide valuable ecosystem services, while also elevating their structural integrity and longevity.

The course will deal with key environmental issues related to the design of coastal and marine infrastructure, including shoreline and underwater landscapes, and suggest a new definition for “urban marine environments,” as a first step towards applying the term “urban ecology” to the marine realm. In addition, we will present current approaches in sustainable management of urban marine structures, from both temperate and tropical environments. Examples will include:coastal defense project and sea wall from the Mediterranean Sea, Development of "Living Breakwaters" as part of the Rebuild by Design initiative, and the ecological enhancement project at the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront.
Philadelphia, PA
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Sustainable Development & Design
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1) As coastal urbanization does not end at the water line, learn what key environmental issues are related to the design of coastal shore and marine infrastructure, and how they impact natural resource conservation, the design of environmental systems and the management of marine ecosystems.
2) Discuss a new definition for “urban marine environments,” as a first step towards applying the term “urban ecology” to the marine realm.
3) Use case studies from both temperate and tropical environments to present new approaches for sustainable management and design aspects of urban edge marine structural systems.
4) Discuss innovative technologies for increasing the biological productivity and ecological value of coastal and marine infrastructure, such as seawalls, piers and marinas, by combining wetlands/marine science and ecology with principles of site design and engineering, including methods, technology and applications.
Dr. Ido Sella
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Course Codes
ECOncrete tech LTD.

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