Hydraulic engineering infrastructures are of concern to many people and are likely to interfere with the environment. Moreover, they are supposed to keep on functioning for many years. In times of rapid societal and environmental change this implies that sustainability and adaptability are important attributes. These are central to Building with Nature (BwN), an innovative approach to hydraulic engineering infrastructure development and operation. Starting from the natural system and making use of nature's ecosystem services, BwN attempts to meet society's needs for infrastructural functionality, and to create room for nature development at the same time. By including natural components in infrastructure designs, flexibility, adaptability to changing environmental conditions and extra functionalities and ecosystem services can be achieved, often at lower costs on a life-cycle basis than ‘traditional’ engineering solutions. The paper shows by a number of examples that this requires a different way of thinking, acting and interacting.