Where space is created societal values are generated – the case of the Sand Engine

the case of the Sand Engine


  • Heleen Vreugdenhil Deltares and Delft University of Technology
  • Jill Slinger Delft University of Technology




landscape transformation, modes of governance, Dutch coast, arts and culture, scientific progress, education


A large sandy peninsula and beach were realized in Dutch coastal waters in the Sand Engine pilot project. In addition to the benefits for flood protection, the Sand Engine generates multiple other societal values. It provides a new type of landscape of uncommon size along the Holland coast where nature, culture, history and the future can come together. In this paper we discuss the added value of the Sand Engine for culture and the arts, its iconic value, and the development of knowledge in diverse sciences most notably morphology, archeology and paleontology, as well as its educational function. Then we explore how different governance modes can influence how the added value is generated and what type of societal value arises. We distinguish four different governance modes related to the level of control exercised and the level of autonomous societal development allowed by project initiators and managers: directive, co-creational, facilitatory and observational.  Different modes can co-exist and may change over time. For the Sand Engine we find that the knowledge development was highly directed, archeology and paleontology were facilitated, while an observational mode was employed towards arts and culture. This leads to the inference that when the physical and societal space is created, societal value-added initiatives emerge. However, such emergence depends on the societal and institutional context as this can act to constrain or enable the type of societal value generated and the extent to which it is realized. Finally, we suggest that applying a more pro-active governance mode to the Sand Engine even at this stage could lead to more diverse and inclusive societal value generation.


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Author Biographies

Heleen Vreugdenhil , Deltares and Delft University of Technology

Heleen Vreugdenhil holds a double appointment at Deltares and Delft University of Technology working on water governance issues. In particular she studies innovation processes in river and coastal management, for example in Nature Based Solutions, and co-creation processes between governments, academia, the market and society.  

Jill Slinger, Delft University of Technology

Jill Slinger is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. She teaches courses on systems modeling at graduate and PhD level and is spearheading the university's teaching on Building with Nature. As Visiting Professor at Rhodes University, South Africa, Slinger is also involved in addressing water and coastal implementation challenges in the developing world. Jill Slinger received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in 1997 and her M.Sc in Mathematics (cum laude) in 1988. Slinger's career has focused on the issues of water and coastal policy, and long term decision making.




How to Cite

Vreugdenhil , H., & Slinger, J. (2023). Where space is created societal values are generated – the case of the Sand Engine: the case of the Sand Engine. International Journal of Water Governance, 10. https://doi.org/10.59490/ijwg.10.2023.6691



Research Article

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