Testing the usefulness of RTD within the ADM approach in a local design case: Sustainable tourism development in Lower Town, Sint Eustatius (Statia)
Research-through-designing (RTD) is a method used in the landscape architectural discipline, where designing is used as a research method. Adaptive Delta Management (ADM) is an approach used in the Dutch Delta Programme to make water management strategies while dealing with uncertainty in future developments. In part one of this thesis (not included in this report) an extensive coding research revealed that in the Dutch Delta Programme, RTD was used to localise the ADM approach in four different ways: as an explorative method, a testing method, a method to create synergy and as a communication method. Part 2 of this thesis (this report) aims to assess if RTD is indeed a useful way to localise the ADM approach in a local design case.
The development of sustainable tourism in Lower Town (LT), Sint Eustatius (Statia), a special municipality of the Netherlands, is selected as a design case. LT has to deal with water related issues, such a sea level rise and coastal erosion, which make it an interesting case for ADM. Sustainable tourism developments form a linkage opportunity to give water management strategies an added value. RTD within the ADM approach was used as main method for the research. Part 1 of the thesis and a literature study on sustainable tourism provided a theoretical framework for the analysis and design.
A desk study and visit to Statia of a month with interviews and field visits resulted in qualities, challenges and ambitions for Statia and LT. A broad range of spatial scenarios were developed and shared with the inhabitants of Statia. Feedback received during the exhibition revealed that creating a good coastal protection is the biggest challenge for LT. Coastal protection options were explored, but too many uncertainties remained. Therefore the development strategy advises to place developments in the higher situated Upper Town, rather than in LT, and focus the design on connecting these two areas. A no-regret design was made for one area as incentive for future developments.
A reflection on the research process showed that RTD was indeed a useful way to localise the ADM approach, in particular for exploring problems and solutions and defining new questions. However, using RTD in this way results in local knowledge and not generalizable new knowledge, which raises the question if RTD is an actual research method.