Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) as a climate adaptation strategy
Sammanfattning: “Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% in the past decade and recent studies show that they are occurring four times higher than in 1980” (Neslen, 2018). At the same time, the urban population is rising. Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and it is estimated to increase to 70% by 2050 (United Nations, 2018). This expansion of urbanized areas is correlated with the increase of impermeable surfaces that, in case of extreme weather events, are not able to drain the water efficiently. The rainfall-runoff is channelled from roads, parking lots, buildings, and other impervious surfaces to storm drains and sewers that cannot handle the volume. The high ratio of impermeable surfaces and the increased extreme rainfall events cause severe environmental, social, economical problems in urban areas. Merely technical and engineering solutions are no sufficient, therefore a new approach that can maintain and adapt the natural water cycle inside the urban areas is needed. Ecosystem services and resilience thinking have become key principles in adaptation strategies at different levels, from international policies (e.g. Sustainable Development Goals) to local actions (e.g. Copenhagen adaptation plan 2015) and design (e.g. climate resilient San Kjeld in Copenhagen). In this scenario, the design approach of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) aims to promote resilience at the local level by managing stormwater, encouraging the defence of the aesthetic value of green and blue areas. WSUD is a multidisciplinary approach that involves water management, urban planning, architecture, and landscape design. The main idea of WSUD is that sustainable stormwater systems should be beautiful, meaningful, and educational (Echols, 2007). This master thesis explores the concept of Water Sensitive Urban Design and its application in the cities of Copenhagen, Malmö and Rotterdam. The case study of PHVision in Heidelberg, Germany, is analysed from the concept of WSUD. Design improvements are suggested stemming from the analysed European examples and the theoretical background.
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