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Katwijk Coastal Defense · Katwijk, the Netherlands

Beyond the waves: a hybrid coastal protection

An integrated approach to coastal reinforcement, dune restoration and connection to the city


As a key part of a larger plan to improve the most vulnerable areas of the Dutch coastal defence, Katwijk’s coast proved to be a particular challenge: how to add safety, without sacrificing the key qualities of the town, but rather add more quality instead? We researched the relationship between the town and the beach, and used the reinforcement to create a dune landscape that feels completely natural while, in reality, it houses a hidden parking garage behind a dyke.

Katwijk, the Netherlands
2008 - 2015
Project area
20 ha
Gemeente Katwijk, Hoogheemraadschap van Rijnland
Arcadis, Ballast Nedam, Royal Haskoning, ZJA
Photography credits
Annie Beugel, Peter de Graaf
International Park Institute (USA), award for architectural achievement, winner - 2017 | Mies van der Rohe Award, nomination - 2017 | Falco award best public space, winner - 2015 | Prof. Dr. Ir. J.F. Agemaprijs, finalist - 2015 | Rijnlandse Architectuur Prijs, winner - 2015 | Gouden Piramide, finalist - 2015

Seaside resort

For the past decade, Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, has undertaken a transformative endeavour to fortify vulnerable sections of the Dutch coastline. The project goes beyond merely constructing coastal defences; it delves into invigorating Katwijk as a tourist destination while bolstering the local seaside economy. Throughout this initiative, preserving the town’s existing charm remained our main concern, ensuring that its identity is not only retained but also enhanced.

Creator of meaningful places

The relation between town and beach

In an interactive planning process, we defined the most essential values of Katwijk; namely the relationship between the village and the beach. The chosen dyke-in-dune coastal defences, a stone-lined embankment covered and reinforced by dunes, supported by sufficient low dunes, would be built with minimal disruption between town and beach. With this construction, the city of Katwijk could also realise an underground parking garage behind the dyke.


“The highlight of the design is a broad ‘dune transition’ that acts as a square space.”

Martin Knuijt

partner at OKRA


Natural dune landscape

The dyke and garage are completely hidden from view by natural-looking dunes, a landscape that will change over time when natural processes take over. An extensive network of paths has been built to connect the village and beach, offering views of the sea. The highlight of the design is a broad dune transition that serves as a welcome space and event plaza, forming a vibrant heart for the Katwijk coast.

Creator of meaningful places

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