top of page
  • Writer's pictureICM News

ICM wins worldwide coastal resilience design competition

Updated: Mar 27

We are delighted to share our recent win in the esteemed Re:Beach Competition. The Re:Beach project emerged as a pivotal initiative by the City of Oceanside, a coastal resilience competition aimed at innovating sustainable and effective sand retention solutions for the city's beaches, which are crucial for both environmental balance and community enjoyment.

Competing against 33 globally recognised companies, our unique approach to sustainable coastal management, which intricately blends innovative engineering with ecological sensitivity, led us to success in the competition with our design. This win is not just a testament to our expertise but also a reaffirmation of our commitment to creating solutions that harmonise nature with community needs.

Aaron and Sam from International Coastal Management in Oceanside for REBEACH design competition

Beach Erosion in Oceanside

Oceanside's struggle with beach erosion is not new. For over 80 years, the beaches of Oceanside have been consistently losing sand​​. Despite replenishing over 20 million cubic yards of sand over the decades, the shoreline continues to face significant erosion, with much of the replacement sand being rapidly washed away.

The Re:Beach Competition

The Re Beach project presented a formidable challenge, pitting us against thought leading companies in the field. Each brought innovative ideas and a wealth of experience, setting a high bar for creativity and feasibility. Ultimately, three finalist companies were considered for their concept designs to move forward in a open forum, public consultation process.

Our preparation involved rigorous brainstorming, detailed analysis of past and current coastal management practices, and envisioning sustainable, long-term solutions. We recognised the need for a design that was not only technically sound but also resonated with the community and environmental ethos of Oceanside.

The main takeaways from the initial investigations were that we needed to make a safe, sandy and accessible beach. We needed to involve surfing into design considerations (to not negatively impact the local surf, and if possible improve it). We had to create potential for improved environmental outcomes.

Parallels between Oceanside, California and the Gold Coast Australia (our home base)

Here on the Gold Coast we have been able to develop a lot of innovative concepts through various pilot project approaches. It was not only the physical characteristics that made both locations similar. It was the overall character and history of the locations being surf oriented, beach destinations for the region.

Our founder, Angus Jackson, was also the chief coastal engineer for the Gold Coast City during the 80's and 90's. In which time he personally developed and implemented many world first's which are still in use to this day (sand bypassing system for example). So, we were able to leverage these experiences into a confident approach tactic for Oceanside.

Oceanside plan by International Coastal Management

Developing our Coastal Resilience Design Concept

Our proposal was built around the concept of ‘living headlands’ and a large offshore reef, aiming to create a nature-mimicking ‘speed bump’ for sand movement. This innovative design was not just a technical solution; it was a testament to our commitment to environmental stewardship and community-centric planning.

The design approach also leveraged working coastal resilience projects from the Gold Coast such as artificial reefs and nearshore nourishment. Throughout the process, we actively engaged with the community and stakeholders, integrating their feedback into our design. This collaborative approach ensured that our proposal was not only innovative but also aligned with the needs and values of Oceanside residents.

Aaron from ICM at Oceanside

Challenges and Adaptations

The journey was not without its challenges. Adapting to new findings, balancing technical and environmental considerations, and staying ahead in a competitive environment pushed us to our creative and professional limits.

Our success can be attributed to the diverse expertise and unwavering dedication of our team members. Each brought unique skills and perspectives, driving the project towards a solution that was both imaginative and grounded in reality.

  • Apart from Angus Jackson's groundbreaking and industry leading efforts over the last few decades we were able to leverage the important works from our Senior Principal Engineer Bobbie Corbett and her award winning work on artificial reefs (which had recently won Australia's Women in Coastal Engineering and Geo Science Award for 2023)

  • We were also able to implement the great nature based solution works and experience of our senior coastal engineer, Sam King, who had also been recently awarded Australia's Kevin Stark Award for Excellence in Coastal and Ocean Engineering in 2023.

Narrowneck reef by ICM

Design Philosophy and Approach

Embracing Innovation and Sustainability:

  • At the heart of our design for the Re Beach project lies a commitment to innovation balanced with environmental sustainability. We aimed to not only solve the immediate issue of beach erosion in Oceanside but also to set a precedent for future coastal resilience projects. Our approach was guided by the philosophy of working with nature, rather than against it.

The Concept of Living Headlands and Offshore Reef:

  • Revolutionary Design Elements: Our proposal introduced the concept of 'living headlands', on shore sand dunes and a large offshore reef. These structures are designed to mimic natural barriers, effectively acting as 'speed bumps' to reduce the longshore transport of sand. This innovative approach was envisioned to provide a stable, wider beach, while also creating new habitats and recreational areas.

  • Environmental Synergy: The living headlands and offshore reef are more than just physical structures; they are designed to integrate seamlessly with the marine ecosystem. By fostering new marine habitats and re-establishing native dune vegetation, our design aims to enhance biodiversity and support local species like the Western Snowy Plover and the Californian Least Tern.

  • Incorporating vegetated dunes at the top of the beach has long been a design approach of ICM and has seen great success on the Gold Coast and other locations.

Concept Design Approach for Oceanside
Concept Design Approach for Oceanside

Concept Before and After of Design
Concept Before and After of Design

Responding to Community Needs:

  • Public Access and Amenities: A key aspect of our design was enhancing public access to the beach and creating significant coastal greenspace. The living headlands not only serve an ecological purpose but also provide new areas for the community to enjoy, further bridging the gap between human use and environmental conservation.

  • Collaboration and Feedback: Throughout the design process, we actively sought and incorporated feedback from the Oceanside community. This collaborative approach ensured that our design not only met technical and environmental goals but also resonated with the people it is intended to benefit.

    • Notable feedback during the process centred on the surfing elements while there was also encouragement for green/public space on the headlands.

Future-Proofing Oceanside's Coastline:

  • Adaptability and Resilience: Recognising the dynamic nature of coastal environments, our design is built to be adaptable and resilient. The offshore reef and living headlands are conceived to evolve over time, accommodating changes in sea level and weather patterns, thus future-proofing Oceanside’s coastline against ongoing and future environmental challenges.

  • Slowing down the natural flow: Our design and approach is centred on the idea of 'slowing' down the natural process, not stopping it. The natural process of wave energy onto the beach and longshore transport for example will continue to happen. However, the idea is to slow down the impacts to improve beach sand retention.

Dune vegetation for coastal resilience

Growth and Development:

  • Expanding Our Expertise: The Re Beach project was a platform for us to push the boundaries of our expertise, particularly in eco-engineered coastal resilience. The challenges we encountered and overcame have significantly contributed to our team’s growth and development.

  • Learning from the Competitive Landscape: Competing against leading global firms provided us with a unique opportunity to interact with the best in the field. It was an enlightening experience that allowed us to benchmark our work against international standards and practices.

Competition Outcome - A Unanimous Decision

We are thrilled to announce that our team had the winning design in the Re Beach Competition. However, the icing on the cake is really the unanimous decision both from the Re Beach jury and from the Oceanside City Council members. It solidifies the interest for the project on all levels as well as confidence in our team to develop the next steps of the design process.

oceanside re beach city council announcement

Next Steps for Oceanside

Moving Forward with Implementation:

  • Finalising the Design: With the competition phase concluded, our immediate focus is on finalising the design details of the living headlands and offshore reef. This involves refining technical specifications and ensuring all aspects align with environmental regulations and community expectations. We we will be working together and building on the great work that local consultant GHD has done at the site and local region.

  • Securing Approvals and Permits: Obtaining necessary approvals and permits from local and state authorities will be done. This critical step ensures that all environmental guidelines are meticulously followed, paving the way for a smooth project execution.

Commencing Construction:

  • Scheduling and Phasing: The construction phase will be carefully scheduled to minimise disruptions to local ecosystems and the community. We plan to implement the project in phases, allowing for continuous assessment and adaptation to any unforeseen environmental impacts.

  • Engagement During Construction: Throughout the construction phase, we will maintain open communication with the community and stakeholders. Regular updates will be provided to keep everyone informed about the progress and any necessary adjustments.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

  • Post-Construction Monitoring: Once the construction is complete, a rigorous monitoring program will be initiated. This will track the effectiveness of the living headlands and offshore reef in sand retention and erosion control.

  • Adapting to Feedback and Findings: The monitoring results will be crucial in evaluating the project's success and informing any necessary modifications. We are committed to adapting our approach based on these findings to ensure the project's long-term sustainability.

Sam from ICM in Oceanside beach

Long-Term Vision and Impact:

  • Future Expansion and Replication: Looking beyond the immediate implementation, we aim to explore the potential for expanding the project to other parts of Oceanside’s coastline. The insights gained from this pilot project could also serve as a model for similar coastal communities facing erosion challenges.

  • Continued Community Involvement: We recognise the importance of continued community involvement and feedback in all future steps. The community's ongoing support and participation will be key in shaping the long-term vision and success of the project.

Promoting Coastal Resilience Beyond Oceanside:

  • Sharing Our Learnings: The knowledge and experience gained from the Re Beach project will be compiled and shared with the broader community of coastal management professionals. We aim to contribute to the global discourse on coastal resilience and climate adaptation.

bottom of page