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Rain in city
With more frequent and intense downpours comes the need to create new methods to handle water in the city.

Saving invaluable land

5 ways of creating a water resilient city

Saving invaluable land

Sponge cities and floating container classrooms are two examples of how storm water can be transformed from a hazard to a resource. We take a look at five methods that together could create the water resilient city.

To pave, pipe and pump have been the dominating methods to deal with water in urban planning. Rain hitting paved surfaces is collected in pipes and sewers, and drainage systems are optimized to withstand a 10-year storm as their maximum.

With more frequent and intense downpours comes the need to create new methods to handle water in the city. Here are five techniques from different parts of the world that are considered the future of urban planning.

Illustration of Permeable pavement
Permeable pavement is a method that allows storm water to filter through and drain into the ground.

1. Permeable pavement
The method has been developed in Chicago. The city is projected to have 40 % more winter rainfall by the end of this century and is already preparing for it. More than 100 so-called Green Alleys have been built since 2006. The alleys have permeable pavement that allows storm water to filter through and drain into the ground. By this, 80 % of the rainfall is diverted from the sewage system.

2. Sponge cities
In China, in the Hunan province, the government has commissioned the construction of 16 sponge cities. Chicago based architectural firm UrbanLab has designed the masterplan. Instead of creating defenses against water, UrbanLab put in space for water to flow at the center of its urban plan, for example by putting major buildings on islands in an enormous central lake.

Illustration of Sponge cities
Coastal corridors is designed to serve as a place for recreation.

3. Coastal corridors
In New York and New Jersey, 2.5 million residents are living within a designated flood zone. To prepare for the future, a cross-discipline team was commissioned by the Regional Plan Association and the Rockefeller Foundation to devise a solution that could withstand sea levels rising with six meters.

The team proposed freezing future development of flood plains in favor of focusing on new housing on higher ground. They also reimagined The Bight, the notch in the region’s coast where the ocean currents pile sand, as a type of buffer zone that would blur the hard line between the city and the sea. The area is designed to serve as a place for recreation.

4. Berms with benefits
In response to Sandy, the storm that hit the US in 2012, a new form of banks have been developed in Meadowlands, New Jersey.

Parallel raised banks, called berms, would combine flood resilience with recreational amenities. The berms are projected to serve as bike and bus lanes as well as to create areas that can retain rainwater and prevent sewers.

Illustration of Floating pods
Floating shipping containers can be used as schools. The method is tried in a pioneer project in Korail, Bangladesh.

5. Floating pods
Can shipping containers, floating on waste plastic bottles be a future solution for flooded cities? Koen Olthuis, founder of Waterstudio – a Dutch architectural practice that builds only floating structures – argues the only way forward is to create structures that shows the benefits of rising sea levels.

Olthuis is trying to improve living standards in waterside slums by providing education and other vital functions in floating shipping containers. He calls the floating containers “city apps”. The first major project is in Korail, a slum on the waterside in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Source: The Guardian

Saving invaluable land

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