First there was water

First there was water…

The issue of water management internationally somehow automatically links to the Netherlands in the one way or the other. Our small country operates as a leading party in this technology with our crown prince Willem Alexander as ambassador of water management nationally and internationally. But all that makes sense, considering that 25 percent of our land is below sea level and around half of the Netherlands could be jeopardized by flooding.

This year, on the 7th conference of sustainable green in Rotterdam, organized by the ‘Rotterdams Milieucentrum’ (Environmental Center Rotterdam), the main focus was on ‘the green city’. Water management in public space played a prominent role in the whole discussion, in which Rotterdam as a harbor city was looking at the importance of the very few open urban spaces and their benefits for green and water.

Having a lack of open spaces, unexpected and innovative paths are taken now and then. In the process of designing public space, recreational use not only has to match social use, but more often also water storage must be facilitated. The programmatic plan “Water 2” has been developed to supplement the lack of water storages in Rotterdam till 2030.

But there are other ways to approach the water problem: by integrating this issue in the whole design process from the very first beginning. By using water and green as a conceptual base for a spatial development, sustainable neighborhoods are created. A number of our projects can serve as an example for such an approach:

Houtribhoogte, Lelystad: A very unique living environment of detached villas, being situated in a collective landscape. The original relief of the former ground depot was being re-used during the design process to provide natural water storage within the area.

Houtribhoogte - Lelystad | Stijlgroep
Boomgaard (Orchard), Hellevoetsluis: With the concept of dividing a district of 1.000+ dwellings in numerous small neighbourhoods, surrounded by water and green, it was easy to exceed the requirements for water storage and drainage issues without any further measures and costs. The design can cope with a heavy rainfall of category 10, where the requirement by the municipality was set originally for category 8.

Plan Tij (Tide), Dordrecht: A former polder at the edge of the Dutch landscape of the Biesbosch, retransformed to a landscape, influenced by the tides. Living, nature and water are integrated in the design proposal with natural banks and water as the spectacular feature of the whole development. Living becomes at this spot a unique experience in the context of the urban and natural environment.

Plan Tij - Dordrecht | Stijlgroep

Water adaptation as export product for a sustainable development

Velika Plaza, our won international competition on sustainable tourism in Montenegro (from landscape to wealthscape), has its origins as well in the concept of ensuring and enhancing the existing landscape features.

first there was water | Stijlgroep

The realization of a tourist development of this size without a strong spatial foundation would certainly lead to disappearance of the reason why tourists are being attracted: the outstanding beauty of the landscape with its recreational and ecological importance along the Adriatic coastline.

But also without tourism, this precious landscape with dunes and halophytes would be doomed to disappear. Without any further intervention the gradual rise in sea level will eventually lead to absorption of this valuable landscape.

Therefore the first task is to achieve a sustainable landscape which will be robust enough to resist in the long term the interventions of both the people and the permanent influence of the sea.

By transforming the old meadows to an uneven landscape with new and higher dunes behind the existing dune line, a spacious environment will be provided for the flora and fauna. This allows sensitive habitats, such as halophytes, to develop themselves along with the rise of the sea level to a new young landscape with the same values as the existing landscape.

This natural response to a natural process has become the basis of the spatial concept of mutually reinforcing landscape structures including water. In that landscape tourism can be integrated in a small scale and in a very sustainable way.

Read more about Velika Plaza Montenegro.

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