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How cities are using architecture to combat flooding

Source(s):  ArchDaily

By Niall Patrick Walsh

Forty percent of the human population lives within 100 kilometers of a coastline, with one in ten living under ten meters above sea level. As climate change induces more volatile flooding events and long-term sea level rises, it is estimated that coastal flooding could cause as much as $1 trillion of damage per year by 2050. We cannot escape the reality that cities, and their populations, are more vulnerable to flooding than ever.


There is therefore a duty on architects, planners, and urbanists to plan and construct resilient responses that can slow, and even reverse, the effects of urban flooding. Around the world, cities are developing action plans that combine global thinking in resiliency with local geographic and urban conditions, all with a common goal of defending urban populations from floods. Below, we outline nine such examples, showcasing differences in scale and approach, as well as unique methods of using flood defenses as agents of social change, and urban regeneration.


In the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Bjarke Ingels Group and Field Operations have developed a scheme that combines mixed-use development and a flood-resilient park. The master plan aims to reinstate natural habitats, elevate the standard for urban waterfront resiliency, and transform the way New Yorkers interact with the East River.


While many urban visions for flood prevention adopt a macro scale, Copenhagen is testing a more pragmatic approach. The Climate Tile, created by THIRD NATURE, IBF, and ACO Nordic, redirects 30% of the projected increase in rainwater expected in the city in the coming years.


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  • Publication date 13 Jan 2020

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