Water Feature Reflection- M.C.

Kiawah Island is mostly made up of uninhabitable marsh land surrounded by the Kiawah River and the Atlantic Ocean. The development of the island happened around all of the water rather than what we see described in the case of Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. Instead of manmade reinforcements to prevent flooding, every house has to be raised and built a certain amount inland. The intricate waterways that you see here are a collection of the ponds and inlets around the island, but there are marshes almost everywhere on the island that are preserved rather than filled in. The biggest difference between the readings and where I live, is it is uniform in its preservation and adaptation to the water because it was only developed beginning in the 20th century, so there isn’t the intricate history of adaption that we see throughout the Netherlands.

Like the Netherlands, Kiawah and the neighboring islands suffer from flooding often. However, there are few features to prevent against flooding and hurricane damage on the land. There is an emphasis for my town on management and response rather than building the infrastructures seen in the Netherlands. There are projects being examined and addressed like the fact that most of our roads are too far below sea level, so in storms they are heavily flooded.

I think it is wise for places all along the east coast to learn of the infrastructure strategies that have taken the Dutch centuries to master in order to protect our homes from being lost. With rising sea levels and increased storms, Kiawah has a severe risk of being permanently damaged for inhabitants. While there is charm to the naturalness of the Island, the practicality of the infrastructure that the Dutch have is just as appealing in the long run.


3 thoughts on “Water Feature Reflection- M.C.

  1. Really great contrast here with what you’re reading about in The Netherlands. It seems the designers of housing on Kiawah have taken a very different approach–though I’m wondering whether there might be places like that in The Netherlands, with that particular kind of residential / natural integration? Also: what problems does the housing pose for the island’s ecology? And are there any plans for what to do with sea level rise?


  2. I appreciate the detail included in your map! It does a great job of highlighting the ponds and small waterways incorporated throughout the island; their natural location serves to contrast the altered waterways present in the Netherlands. It interested me that Kiawah has chosen to adapt to the water rather than trying to alter it like the Dutch. Kiawah values altering the man-made world to fit nature, while the Dutch are more concerned with altering nature to accommodate for the man-made world. This is shown by Kiawah’s unique use of architecture with structures like raised houses. In the long run, such architecture is only temporary. Kiawah seems content with responding to nature rather than proactively fighting against it. This attitude is very different from the Dutch, who mathematically planned waterways. In general, I think the Dutch take a more collectivist approach to regulating nature since they have a national policy regarding waterways, while in the US individuals states are mainly in charge of this. Your comment on planning versus responding was great! I think the Dutch would be shocked to learn how hands-off Kiawah is with planning in regard to waterways.

    Also, the commercialization of nature is a key topic in Dutch Urbanism, and I was surprised to learn that Kiawah’s marshes have not been filled in because I assume they could be valuable real estate. I wonder if this decision was made due to environmental reasons? I think the Dutch would be in favor of filling in the marshes because they value efficiency and reaping the benefits of nature. This is evidenced by closing Zuiderzee and reclaiming the sea to create agricultural land. Overall, Kiawah and the Netherlands have contrasting approaches to nature that affect how it is incorporated into the man-made world.


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