Louisiana's comprehensive master plan for a sustainable coast

Manual coastal development Louisiana

Coastal Louisiana USA

Coastal Louisiana USA

Coastal Louisiana USA

Coastal Louisiana USA

the assignment

Directing developments in a drowning delta

In recent decades, quality of life in the Mississippi delta has come under increasing pressure. Climate change, loss of wetlands due to the search for oil and reduced flow of sediments because of the canalisation of the Mississippi river, trigger the possible disappearance of most of the delta in 40 years from now. With it, not only a range of unique landscapes and ways of life (some over 1200 years old) will be lost, but also quite exceptional ecological values, and with it, economic potential for fishing industries, aqua culture and leisure. In addition, the delta wetlands also serve as natural flood barriers, and their disappearance would threaten the safety of big cities like New Orleans, Houma and Thibodaux.

With our American partners we searched for possibilities to ensure continued habitation in the Mississippi delta; attractive, economically viable, but most of all safe. To achieve this, large scale wetland regeneration is essential and considered a given. For the project, the bigger cities were left out of the equation; they have their own set of predicaments.

the approach

Landscape typologies

Development  of the handbook started with a comprehensive analysis of the six Louisiana landscape typologies. For each typology, specific characteristics, processes and issues were visualised in an extensive 3D-profile, richly illustrated with photos of the area. This provides a shared insight, for all parties, in the actualities, specific values, issues and opportunities of the region. The use of photographs from the area makes the undertaking tangible for stakeholders and stimulates shared ownership of the handbook.

To educate users of the handbook on the problems and possibilities of water management, a chapter on ‘international best-practices’ was added. It summarises the different solutions that were chosen in other river delta areas around the world. It also lists how to access additional information.


The insights gained from analysis led to a list of integral development strategies with potential, on two scale levels: ‘Community scale’ and ‘Site specific/ individual building scale’. Each development strategy, or ‘building block’, is tailored to the core qualities and potential of the location and its surroundings. The parties in the lead and the moments strategies are opportune are made clear in a matrix, organised by landscape typology.

The matrix overview is followed by an illustration of each individual building block/strategy. It explains how building block functions in practice, in which landscapes typology they are effective, which (inter-)national examples and best practices apply, which partners are in the lead and what are potential sources of funding.


Implementation: step-by-step

The final chapter of the handbook focuses on implementation. In a single spread, it offers references to essential institutions and their area of responsibility. It indicates which institution can be engaged for which goal, and where potential funding and sources for additional (digital) information can be found. Finally, an outline for a step-by-step plan shows what communities can do themselves to create a safer and more attractive environment, and ensure a secure and pleasant Mississippi Delta for at least the next 40 years.

project data

Title: Best Practices Manual for Development in Coastal Louisiana

Location: Louisiana, VS

Client: Center for Planning Excelence, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana

Type: Development plan, manual

Cooperation: Fregonese Associates, Shaw group, Tulane University, Code Studio, Kimberly-Horn

Duration: 2010-2011

Image credits: BoschSlabbers

Project code: HO 09-05