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Sand Wars
Nags Head, North Carolina


In a familiar story that may yet become all too familiar to everybody in a climate-changed future, the Italian cities of “industrial Brindisi” and “elegant, baroque Lecce” are battling each other over sand.

Quoting The Guardian:

Faced with losing the pristine San Cataldo beach to creeping Adriatic sea currents, the town of Lecce in Puglia arranged to dig up 200,000 cubic metres of sand out at sea in front of neighbour - and rival - Brindisi. But with EU-funded work set to start proud locals in the port city of Brindisi rose up in protest, with 10,000 signing a petition to stop the digging, hundreds forming a human chain along their own, eroding, beach, and fans at a local football match unfurling a banner stating: “Don't touch the sand.”


As interesting as this tale of mineral piracy is, it would be moreso if we were to hear that a landscape architecture firm has been commissioned to do some sort of project to be sited on this stretch of contested coastline.

Not only will they have to maneuver through a potentially explosive political landscape but the designers must simultaneously attend to the physical forces at work in this coastal landscape — such as beach erosion and surfzone currents — that, while much is now known about them relative to just a few decades ago, are still largely mysterious.

Maybe there is a competition for a new beachfront promenade or another Trump golf course or one of those so-called eco-towns or just a sprawling mansion for a chief executive and his family as a summer retreat from the city. The project site is no longer in Puglia but in a barrier island, such as North Carolina's Nags Head, pictured above. It's a mobile landscape, a fragile terrain always in danger of collapse, where everything is beyond the control of engineering. Entrants will have to navigate between programs of containment and resilience, between settlement and retreat, between conflicting ideas of permanence and impermanence.

And all entries will be the best projects ever. Obviously.

In any case, to return back to Italy, the deputy mayor of Lecce was asked from where the city will now get their sand after the courts ordered them to stop digging in front of Brindisi. She replied that they will import it from economically desperate Albania — which, of course, means that it will be another case of the rich exploiting the poor to maintain their quality of life, and the exploited is left with a degraded landscape.


Climate Ghettos


The Retreating Village
5 COMMENTS —
  • sarah
  • July 16, 2008 at 12:13:00 PM CDT
  • Ocean City MD started the 'beach replenishment' in 1988 and still do it every 4 years. I think it keeps the army corp of engineers in business.
    http://www.town.ocean-city.md.us/brp2006.html
    here is a link to the Governor's letter from 1988.
    http://www.town.ocean-city.md.us/bchrepl.html


  • jeffr@vicksburg.org
  • July 17, 2008 at 12:15:00 PM CDT
  • The Corps by the direction of Washington is again using taxpayer $ to try and make a moving geological structure ( a barrier island) a stationary structure.


  • Olliffs Antiques
  • July 22, 2008 at 8:48:00 AM CDT
  • It's only been around 150 years since Garibaldi unified the city-states into the country we know as Italy...
    maybe in another 150 years the inhabitants and their mayors will come to terms with the unification; until then Italia will continue in it's wonderfully unfathomable way!


  • Trevor Corson
  • July 24, 2008 at 3:09:00 AM CDT
  • Great book on this is Cornelia Dean's "Against the Tide."


  • Alexander Trevi
  • July 24, 2008 at 2:54:00 PM CDT
  • Trevor: Agreed on the Cornelia Dean book. A highly recommended book for this topic.

    Meanwhile, there's this old post about an engineering project in Galveston that Dean wrote about in her book.


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