Making urbanizing deltas more resilient by design

Authors

  • Han Meyer TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7480/iphs.2016.3.1784

Abstract

Talking about ‘resilience’ and ‘adaptability’ seems to be a new fashion in the world of architecture and urbanism. Many people use these terms without explaining what they mean. Both terms are often used in combination with, and even as synonym of, terms like ‘incremental’ and ‘bottom-up’ and as an alternative of large scale ‘top-down’ interventions by the state.

But it is far more than a new fashion; the use of these terms indicates a process of fundamental transition of paradigms in planning and design. This paradigm-change is related to a farewell of modernist and reductionist ideas and approaches in science, engineering and design. For a long time these modernist ideas were dominating, suggesting that it is possible to know and understand the world (the social world as well as the physical world) completely, and that, based on this knowledge, it is possible to plan and control the development of the world completely.

A large range of events contributed to the rising idea that it is impossible to know, predict and control the world completely: the social revolts of the 1960s, the messages of the Club of Rome in the 1970s, the concerns with climate change since the 1990s and many more. They contributed to an increasing awareness that systems in nature as well in society are complex, and that the developments of these complex systems are non-linear, with a basically uncertain future ( Scheffer 2009; Mitchell 2009). This uncertain future means that we have to take into account that disturbances can happen suddenly, unexpected, and also that external conditions can change substantially. Moreover, the size and scale of these disturbances and changes are unknown.

The situation and the challenges in urbanizing deltas are interesting examples in the current discussion. In a recent report, composed by TU Delft and the Delta Alliance, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the preparation of the UN-Habitat-III conference, the authors argue that delta regions are the most promising regions of the world, but in the same time these regions are the most vulnerable zones, were floods, draught, salinization and pollution result in major risks for millions of people, for economic development and for the environment (Meyer, Peters 2016).

References

Bacchin, T. (2015), Performative Nature. Urban landscape infrastructure design in water sensitive cities, Delft: TU-Delft, PhD thesis

Barbier, E.B., S.D. Hacker, C. Kennedy, E.V. Koch, A. C. Stier, and B.R. Silliman (2011), ‘The value of estuarine and coastal ecosystem services’. Ecological Monographs, 81(2), 169–193

Barry J.M. (1997), Rising Tide. The great Mississippi flood of 1927 and how it changed America, New York: Simon & Schuster

Bosch A., van der Ham W., (1998), Twee eeuwen Rijkswaterstaat 1798 – 1998, Zaltbommel: Europese Bibliotheek

Bradshaw, M., R. Weaver (1995), Foundations of Physical Geography. Boston (Mass): Wm.C. Brown

Campanella, R. (2014), Fluidity, Rigidity and Consequence. A comparative historical geography of the Mississippi and Senegal river deltas and the deltaic urbanism of New Orleans and Saint-Louis, Built Environment 40/2, 184-200

Costanza, R., R. d’Arge, R. Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg et al. (1997), ‘The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital’. Nature, nr. 387, pp. 253-260.

Ericson Jason P., Charles J. Vörösmarty, S. Lawrence Dingman, Larry G. Ward, Michel Meybeck (2006), ‘Effective sea-level rise and deltas: Causes of change and human dimension implications’. Global and Planetary Change 50/1–2, 63–82

Groot, Rudolf de, Luke Brander, Sander van der Ploeg, Robert Costanza, Florence Bernard, Leon Braat, Mike Christie, Neville Crossman, Andrea Ghermandi, Lars Hein, Salman Hussain, Pushpam Kumar, Alistair McVittie, Rosimeiry Portela, Luis C. Rodriguez, Patrick ten Brink, Pieter van Beukering (2012), ‘Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary units’. Ecosystem Services, 1/1, pp. 50-61.

Klijn F., D. de Bruin, M. de Hoog, S. Jansen & D. Sijmons (2013), Design quality of room-for-the-river measures in the Netherlands: role and assessment of the quality team (Q-team), International Journal of River Basin Management, Volume 11, Issue 3, p. 287-299

Meyer H. (2012), ‘A Rationalized Delta’, in J. Portugali, H. Meyer, E. Stolk, E. Tan, eds. (2012), Complexity theories of cities have come of age: an overview with implications to urban planning and design, Berlin: Springer 311-326

Meyer H. (2016), De Staat van de Delta. Waterwerken, stadsontwikkeling en natievorming in Nederland, Nijmegen: VanTilt

Meyer H., Peters R. eds. (2016), A plea for putting the issue of Urbanizing Deltas on the New Urban Agenda, Delft

Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: A guided tour. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mulder Jan P.M., Saskia Hommes, Erik M. Horstman (2011), ‘Implementation of coastal erosion management in the Netherlands’. Ocean & Coastal Management 54, 888-897

Nicholls, R.J., P.P. Wong, V.R. Burkett, J.O. Codignotto, J.E. Hay, R.F. McClean, S. Ragoonaden, C.D. Woodroffe (2007), Coastal systems and low-lying areas. Climate change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F.Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press UK, 315-356

O’Neill K.M. (2006), Rivers by Design. State power and the origins of U.S. flood control, Durham: Duke University Press

Scheffer M. (2009) Critical Transitions in Nature and Society, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

Schipper C., S.Vergouwen, M. de Jong. M. Vreugdenhil, M. de Bel, F. Schasfoort, S. Minderhoud (2015), Port of the Future. Exploratory study, Delft: Deltares

Tessler Z.D., C. J. Vörösmarty, M. Grossberg, I. Gladkova, H. Aizenman, J. P. M. Syvitski, E. Foufoula-Georgiou (2015), ‘Profiling risk and sustainability in coastal deltas of the world’. Science 349 pp. 638-643

Veen, J. van (1950), Dredge, Drain, Reclaim – The Art of a Nation, The Hague.

Waggonner D., Dolman N., Hoeferlin D., Meyer H., Schengenga P., Thomaesz S., Van den Bout J., Van der Salm J., Van der Zwet C. (2014), New Orleans after Katrina: Building America’s Water City, in Built Environment 40/2, 281-299

WEF (World Economic Forum) (2015), World Risks Report, Davos

Winsemius, Hessel C., Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, Ludovicus P. H. van Beek, Marc F. P. Bierkens, Arno Bouwman, Brenden Jongman, Jaap C. J. Kwadijk, Willem Ligtvoet, Paul L. Lucas, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Philip J. Ward (2015), ‘Global drivers of future river flood risk’. Nature Climate Change doi:10.1038/nclimate2893

Wisner, Ben, Piers Blaikey, Terry Cannon, Ian Davis (1994), At Risk. Natural Hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters, London/New York: ­Routledge

Downloads

Published

2016-07-17