Project description

This project is about how the Cromarty Firth region responds to the sea level rise risks in the future. The project consists of three parts, the bird island, the climate change heritage park, and the estuary park. These three parks reflect three kinds of degree dealing with coastal flooding risks. The first degree is harnessing the positive aspects of the flooding area. The second one is adapting to the flood. The third one being mitigating the flood. From a landscape architect’s point of view, only fighting against coastal flooding is not a sustainable method to respond to climate change, an adaptive landscape design with more resilience is needed in the Anthropocene.

According to the IPCC (2019) document, the sea level will rise 2 meters in the extreme condition in the next 100 years. This dramatic change will cause most coastal areas of the world to suffer coastal risks, such as flooding, coastal erosion, more intense storms, etc. As a typical coastal low-lying area in Scotland, Cromarty Firth’s coast is having these risks in a specific way. The settlement, humanity, history, ecology and wildlife all inhabit the coast. So, the design of this project will take Dingwall, one of the largest settlements in Cromarty Firth with a 5 thousand population, as a test field to implement adaptive landscape design.

The principle of this design is retreating from high-risk areas, recycling materials from the communities that will be submerged in the future, releasing the flooded coast for wildlife habitat, and finally, use the recycled material to reconstruct new coastal landscape for human and non-human. It is different from building a huge concrete sea dike directly for the next 100 years, all this design process is phased, based on the prediction timeline of sea expansion in Dingwall coast. To make sure the sea level rise prediction is reasonable, ArcGIS analyzing tool is used.

The first key time is 2045, it is the time when the sea expansion starts influencing the south part of Dingwall. It will be separated from the mainland by the sea expansion process in the next few years and become an island. So, before this happens, a retreat plan is made to protect local people but also ensure the coastal habitat expansion can keep pace with the sea-level rise. This island reflects the first degree of dealing with sea flooding. So, it is named bird island, a site designed totally for the wildlife with some specific landscape facilities. The second key time is 2070, it is the time when the sea flooding covering the middle Dingwall coastal community. After people retreat from this area, many buildings will gradually stand in the shallow tidal zone, be occupied by nature gradually, and gradually become ruins. A climate change heritage wetland park will be designed based on the heritage of the disappearing ruins. It reflects the second degree of facing sea-level rise. And give people the opportunity to think about the impact of the Anthropocene and the relationship between human and nature while allowing them to reuse submerged areas. The third key time is 2095, at this time the sea will flood the inner Dingwall through the canal estuary. A new estuary park with a terrace park and water treatment will be designed to mitigate the negative impact of flooding and make the estuary area a new space for humans and non-human. The resilience design is used here to balance the dynamic space between human and flooding. It represents the third degree of dealing with sea-level rise in this project.

In conclusion, this project attempts to respond to rising sea levels with an adaptive landscape design. While the Anthropocene has allowed humans to dramatically reshape nature, fighting irreversible climate change will lead to unsustainable development. Avoiding conflict, living with the sea may be away.

content page
Cromarty Firth current plan
Landing the site

According to the last semester’s work, I am concentrated on the rising sea levels due to climate change. After I modelling the specific terrain of Cromarty firth and projected position of the sea level after a 2m rise.

Dingwall, a village at the southwest corner of the Cromarty Firth, caught my interest. This village, with a population of about 5k, will face a huge flood problem after the sea rises 2m. At the same time, as far as I know, the area is facing a serious flood problem at present.

So it is essential to know what will happen there after 100 years and how the people face the flooding problem. As a landscape architect, facing the flood is not just about building a seawall, but choosing a more resilient and soft way to create a new landscape.


Considering the maximum value of seawater rise in the next 100 years, this area will be the first to be affected.

The rising sea level

An animation of rising sea level demonstrating how the sea flood will impact Dingwall from 2020 to 2120. The sea expansion maps are given every 10 years. The left one is the estimated coastal line in ArcGIS spatial analysis, and the right one is a digital model simulation in Sketchup.

The yellow area is the estimated salt marsh from the software simulation. But without proper adaptation design, the saltmarsh will not develop by nature because of human impact.

the rising sea level
terrain analysis
the content page 2
master plan
The bird island

The first stage is the bird habitat island. It will be formed between 2045 and 2070 (2 thousand and seventy). At this time, The south part of the Dingwall coast will separate from the land by the flood and become an island. In this case, this land will be totally disused and will be converted to a bird reserve site. 

Due to the complex terrain on it, some of the coast trees and shrubs can be preserved and protected from seawater.

Since the island will be separated from the mainland when the sea level rises, without the human activity impact, it's a good opportunity to form a bird habitat, so saltmarsh and coastal shrub habitat will be planted here and some artificial birdhouse will be set at here to attract winter birds and help develop bird habitat. And to expand the habitat, some groynes will be set here to catch the sediment from the estuary of river Conon. And the material of these groynes come from the abandoned buildings in this south Dingwall area.


master plan of bird island
bird view of bird island
Climate change heritage park

The second stage is the climate change heritage park. It will be built between 2070 and 2095. Because in this time the seawater and saltmarsh land will cover the big stadium and some housing area in the midcoast. So in this stage, people need to retreat in advance and some of the buildings will be deconstructed and recycled to release a place for saltmarsh.

With this heritage park, people can go into the flooded site along the main road, and a coastal path will be built to connect various landscape, such as the Camping Area, the Bird Watching Platform, the ruins of abandoned buildings, the Museum of Climate Change. All the boardwalk and platform will use the recycled building material from this site. And the ruins of the old building will gather sediment and become the habitat for saltwater vegetation, bird and marine wildlife.

plan of heritage park
bird view of heritage park
bird view of heritage museum in cloudy day
bird view of heritage museum in sunset
Estuary Park

The third stage is an estuary park. It will happen between 2095 to 2100. At this time, the flood will start flood the inner Dingwall through the river. When leaving space for the river, we also need to mitigate the impact on the local people. So a new elevation levelled park will replace the original park. With the different flooding conditions, people can use different level in the park so the flood won’t submerge the park totally at one time. Also, a new estuary with a lot of water brunches will be built to give space for plants to grow and can become a water treatment to deal will the water pollution in the future.

master plan of estuary park
human view in estuary park
content page 3
bird house model overview
bird house model making

This artificial birdhouse is designed for providing native birds with nesting places before the shrubs and trees establish their community on the bird island. These stands simulate the form of trees to attract farmland bird and wading birds. They range in height from 6 to 8 meters, using the recycled steel and timber from the retreated buildings.

bird island planting 1
bird island planting 2
bird island planting 3
bird island planting 4
section of bird island
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