Bridging Ecological Urbanism and Urban Political Ecology for a new vision of Water Sensitivity in cities


  • Raquel Hädrich Silva Delft University of Technology
  • Dominic Stead Aalto University
  • Margreet Zwarteveen IHE Delft
  • Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin Delft University of Technology



Water Sensitive Urban Design, Urban Political Ecology, Ecological Urbanism


The spatial imaginaries offered by ecological urbanists working with Water Sensitive Urban De-sign (WSUD) can potentially foster more sustainable urban development by reclaiming space for water in the urban realm, developing new ecological infrastructure and transforming human relationships with water. However, the societal benefits purported by proponents of WSUD do not al-ways materialise due to social and cultural differences in society which can then make WSUD contentious. Scholarship in urban political ecology has highlighted various contradictions inherent to design-deterministic approaches that attempt to restore water ecologies in cities through green infrastructure systems. For these reasons, it is crucially important to understand what and whose visions and socio-environmental relations are being promoted or not by the Water Sensitive Urban Design approach in order to identify ways in which water sensitive city-making can become more democratic and equitable. The main contribution of this paper is to go beyond the terrain of aca-demic critique by offering urbanists working with WSUD practical ways forward on how to in-corporate issues of political ecology into practice. To do so, the paper aims to develop a new approach to design processes which allows discourses of more radical voices to be considered when charting new avenues for water sensitivity.


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How to Cite

Hädrich Silva, R., Stead, D., Zwarteveen, M., & Kuzniecow Bacchin, T. . (2021). Bridging Ecological Urbanism and Urban Political Ecology for a new vision of Water Sensitivity in cities. The Evolving Scholar, 1.