By Michael Rothenborg and Martin Zoffmann
Children are playing basketball among rain water canals at a square in Kokkedal, north of Copenhagen in Denmark. The sun is out now, but when the next cloudburst occurs, the canals are designed to ensure that the neighbouring school and other facilities are not flooded.
Nearby, former overgrown areas around small townhouses in Egedalsvænge have been transformed into small gardens that double as water basins.
These are just two examples of the holistic approach taken by Ramboll on Denmark’s largest climate adaptation project to date. The ‘Blue-green garden city’ project will not only be able to safeguard against more extreme cloudbursts, it will also use the water as an advantage - aesthetically, socially and health-wise. Moreover, new paths and access points to urban nature will provide recreational areas for the public and act as inspiration for teachers and students from the neighbourhood’s public schools.
A significant part of the project focuses on expanding the buffer areas along an existing stream, restoring the original water cycle and creating a delta formation to make the water flow through the city.
"In addition to being aesthetically attractive, this creates an improved eco-system, increased property prices, social cohesion and improved well-being," says Christian Nyerup Nielsen, Director, Climate Adaptation and Flood Risk Management at Ramboll.
The ‘Blue-Green garden city’ is one of the best examples of Ramboll’s approach that recognises that a climate project should not only make cities more resilient against cloudbursts and sea-rise. Ideally it should also improve the everyday life of local residents - environmentally, socially and culturally – while still being cost-efficient.
“It is an approach that we try to adapt all over the world, with due consideration to local conditions,” explains Christian Nyerup Nielsen.
Another example can be found in Singapore, where Ramboll has helped the Housing and Development Board transform Kampung Admiralty into a dynamic community heart enabling an aging population to live actively. Green and blue infrastructure lessens the impact of intensive urbanisation through more sustainable and biophilic design measures.
In New York, Ramboll’s holistic approach was central to the Cloudburst Resiliency Planning Study which was conducted in Jamaica Bay in the borough of Queens. With more than 400,000 residents, the area was chosen as the pilot because it has more flooding and sewer backups complaints on record than any other area of the city, and certain neighbourhoods are flooded repeatedly.
Alan Cohn, Climate Program Director at the NYCDEP, explains why Ramboll was chosen for the project. “Ramboll not only has the water engineering techniques, but can also factor them and all the other aspects into the big calculation – and simplify it,” he says. “Cost-effectiveness means not only the amount of savings in terms of avoided property damage but also the extent to which the new green areas will improve residents’ health and quality of life.”
The Kokkedal project was not just a response to major flooding that has occurred, but it was also instrumental in improving the town; built in the 1960s, Kokkedal was run down and had a reputation of being socially divided.
“The Blue-Green Garden City has the potential to lift the entire city of Kokkedal and offer a new beginning,” says the Mayor of Fredensborg, Thomas Lykke Pedersen. “We are looking forward to having this new sustainable city where the water will help bringing citizens together and create a good community."
The project has already been recognized by Realdania and the Danish Water and Wasterwater Association (Danva), winning the prestigious Climate Award 2017 for “its high and innovative climate protection standard in a much-needed area,” according to the jury.
“The project offers a wide range of innovative, creative and aesthetic solutions that contribute to giving a larger urban area in Kokkedal an overall boost and demonstrates the potential of climate adaptation in conjunction with other aspects,” they concluded.
Read more about the projects here:
Read about a related project ‘The Soul of Nørrebro’ here: