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Nowadays, climate change is a very serious issue. It causes the change in average temperature and flood to be more severe. Flooding plays an essential increasingly role in many countries, and it has a tendency to get more intense and cause damage to urban space around the world. Many cities that face flood issues have a long duration of rain and waterlogged causing the failure of the drainage infrastructure system. This leads to many cities have to adapt themselves and using the urban design or urban planning methods to make the city resilient, and in each city would have their own solutions since they have different contexts and factors. In this blog, I would like to talk about some case studies from different parts of the world.  

Copenhagen, Denmark

Since Copenhagen is experiencing intense rainfall events, they have created some solutions to prevent flooding such as the Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan, Cloudburst Management Plan, Copenhagen strategic urban flood plan.

In the Copenhagen strategic urban flood plan, they design some of the city’s elements to be involved with flood mitigation strategies which are the park, plaza, street, green street, urban Canal, Urban Creek, retention boulevard, and boulevard. The lake currently lies higher than surrounding green spaces. Removing the physical barrier to the waterfront, creating a bypass tunnel, and combining ‘Blue-Green’ techniques with ‘Grey’ piping creates a new place for people while mitigating flood event overflow [1]. Also, they combine the floodway to the one main line to lead the water to the Copenhagen Harbour.

image reference: Ramboll and Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl

The plan also promotes the private-public partnership that private and public lands have to be involved with this mitigation process. From the figure shows the implementation levels of open storm drainage systems and their applicable techniques. The stormwater will be slow down since it falls to the rooftop of the building by green roof or vertical garden, and also permeable surface at the ground level.

image reference: VATTEN – Journal of Water Management and Research

The sewerage utility in Copenhagen has conveyed both stormwater and household wastewater in the same pipes. Most of the pipes in many cases are outdated and dimensioned on the basis of different criteria than apply today, when heavy rainfalls the sewers will be too small, and the sewage will, therefore, run off on the surface and seek lower points[2]. The purpose of the sewerage utility is to ensure that the discharge of wastewater from houses takes place safely from the ground floor. The city has been designed to combine wastewater and stormwater in a single pipe. The system is designed to slow down and control overflow, during times of flooding.

image reference: Sewer Equipment

The city has integrated motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians along with the common public space, and they flip the street layout which allows street widths to be reduced while increasing retention capacity to handle the rain events.

image reference: Ramboll and Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl

Also, the city has design detention spaces that are in the rain events, spaces will be retention basins for mitigation, but in normal time, it will be another programs.

image reference: Ramboll and Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl

image reference:  COWI, TREDJE NATUR and Platant

Jiading Central Park, Shanghai, China 

Another case study is in China. Jiading Central Park is enhancing the ecological system and a people-oriented spirit, including universal accessibility on all pathways, restored wetlands, new woodland, native planting that boost the local biocommunity, stormwater management system, and reuse of existing materials. The main point from this case study that I would like to explain is that this city has integrated green and blue infrastructure such as tree path, native forest, grove, forest, bamboo forest, retention pond, detention park, riparian system in many beneficial purposes and they are flexible to use, not only for improving ecological system but also to solve flooding issues.

These is some examples of green infrastructure elements. The native forest (no.1) is a community gardens, orchard, playground which is providing for people in the community zone. Also, it is increasing the bird species and it is water storage when in the rain event. The central park (no.2) is a large detention park which creates many activities for people and also creates interaction between people and river. The tree path (no.3) helps to reduce the runoff water by providing the surface area where rainwater lands and evaporates. Bamboo forest (no.4) is a natural space with tea house and amphitheater which play a role in forest and landscape restoration and reduce runoff water.

I try to create diagrams that explain how green infrastructure, blue infrastructure, and other elements link together in this park. In my opinion, this park is embraced ecology and complexity in terms of landscape urbanism principles.

From these two cases, we can see how each city due to the floods. However, in my opinion, the best solution for this issue is that the government should create plans, design guidelines, or policies which control all the city component to be appropriate due to floods or other disasters. Then looking down to each project in the city how its work with the surrounding, how it affects people, and the most important is how will people participate in the design? Since flooding is a long-term issue, we will inevitably face it for a long time. So all the designs should be thought carefully and should be long-term and sustain solutions.


  • Whitten, Geoff. “Landscape Urbanism.” Lecture, Newcastle University, November 7, 2019.
  • [1]AMERICAN SOCIETY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS, 2016. 2016 ASLA PROFESSIONAL AWARDS: The Copenhagen Cloudburst Formula: A Strategic Process for Planning and Designing Blue-Green Interventions. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • [2]COPENHAGEN CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLAN. (2011). [PDF] City OF Copenhagen. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • (2014). Storm-water management in Malmö and Copenhagen with regard to climate change scenarios. VATTEN – Journal of Water Management and Research 70, p. 159–168.
  • Drees & Sommer. (2016). Climate change: Copenhagen declares war on floods. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • Flood, J. (2017). Copenhagen Cloudburst. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • Cathcart-Keays, A. (2016). Why Copenhagen Is Building Parks That Can Turn Into Ponds. [online] CityLab. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • (2015). Copenhagen Strategic Flood Masterplan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • Androsky, C. (2016). Building a Resilient Copenhagen: Urban Flood Mitigation in a Global City. [online] [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • (n.d.). Cloudburst Management Plan, Copenhagen. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • Ramboll Group. (2013). Cloudburst Concretisation Masterplan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].
  • Kilhof, S. (2014). Copenhagen weather change prompts audacious flood plan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019].


  • Sasaki. (2013). Jiading Central Park. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].
  • (2016). JIADING CENTRAL PARK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].
  • Issuu. (2016). Jiading Central Park in FuturArc. [slide online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].
  • (2016). Jiading Central Park. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].

4 responses to “Living with floods: Water Management and the Ecological Urban Park”

  1. Thank you, Mark, for posting rather interesting case studies, which successfully deal in preventing flooding. Undoubtedly, green and blue infrastructure you pointed out in Shanghai’s case play a substantial role in effective flood management. Based on Jiading Central Park case study, I would expand the discussion by citing China’s ‘sponge city initiative’, which will provide a significantly wider scope on this matter.

    Due to risks of extreme weather events and natural disasters in the country, ‘sponge city initiative’ was launched by Chinese government in Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi’xian, Nanjing, Tianjin and other 25 cities/pilot areas in 2015 (Garfield, 2017). This initiative aims to utilize permeable surfaces and green infrastructure not only as primary tools in upgrading poor urban drainage infrastructure but also positively influencing on urban environment and human health statistics (Wang et al., 2019). One of the most important features of sponge cities represents the ability of rainwater retention with a subsequent option of reusing it for agricultural and industrial purposes (Fuldauer, 2019).

    Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, represents the leading Chinese city to successfully apply and implement ‘sponge city initiative’. Vulnerable to rapid urban expansion and torrential monsoon rainfall, Wuhan, and specifically city’s Nanganqu Park, utilized rain gardens, artificial ponds, grass swales, wetland areas and permeable pavements in order to “reduce the economic and environmental damage caused by pluvial flooding” (Arcadis, 2019). Among other ‘sponge cities’, Baicheng should be noted as well, which, in comparison to Wuhan, additionally resolves the challenges of poor conditions of soil and dysfunctional infrastructure (Qiao et al., 2019).

    Complementing on your opinion regarding the detailed guideline preparation from government officials, Nguyen et al. (2020) argue that such procedure is yet to be successfully implemented in other Chinese sponge cities, thus a new framework should be introduced. Nguyen et al. (2020, p. 5) suggest that long-term performance of urban water management strategies need to consider engagement of various integral factors such as water vulnerability assessment, climate change assessment and integrated smart technologies assessment. However, considering the “burgeoning municipal debt crisis spurred in part by restrictive financial reforms, bond ratings cuts, and nervous bond markets” such frameworks and guidelines frequently remain insignificant and overlooked (The Conversation Global Perspectives, 2019).

    Arcadis (2019) Wuhan Sponge City Project. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2020).

    Fuldauer, E. (2019) China’s sponge cities are turning concrete green to combat flooding. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2020).

    Garfield, L. (2017) China is building 30 ‘sponge cities’ that aim to soak up floodwater and prevent disaster. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2020).

    Nguyen, T., Ngo, H., Guo, W. and Wang, X. (2020) ‘A new model framework for sponge city implementation: Emerging challenges and future developments’, Journal of environmental management, 253, pp. 1-13.

    Qiao, X., Liao, K. and Randrup, T. (2019) ‘Sustainable stormwater management: A qualitative case study of the Sponge Cities initiative in China’, Sustainable Cities and Society, 53, pp. 1-9.

    The Conversation Global Perspectives (2019) China’s ‘sponge cities’ aim to re-use 70% of rainwater – here’s how. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2020).

    Wang, C., Hou, J., Miller, D., Brown, I. and Jiang, Y. (2019) ‘Flood risk management in sponge cities: The role of integrated simulation and 3D visualization’, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 39, pp. 1-10.

  2. That a great information for your blog. I really interesting with how the solution of flood problem increasing in many places over the world. The solution also provides us with more sustainable thinking about environment. In here I want to say about we must considerate the cause of the flooding itself. There is a different cause of flooding that need different approach to handle the problem.

    Flood cause majorly divided into two categories. First, Flood from heavy rainfall that occurs when a river’s discharge exceeds its channel’s volume causing the river to overflow onto the area surrounding the channel known as the floodplain. The increase in discharge can be triggered by several events. The most common cause of flooding is prolonged rainfall cannot absorb by the land soil because forest and vegetation in the rifer stream are being cut down to change into man productive land such as farming and housing.

    Second is The rising of sea levels that cause by climate changing. This cause of flooding can happen in the coast line. This flooding problem have a greater impact to the urban area. Because the water came from the sea with the rising of sea levels in period of time.

    The solution for these two kind of flooding have different method. In the first cause of flooding can be solved with your example in your writing. There are many successful example to prevent flooding from overflow river stream. And for the second cause of flooding need massive infrastructure to build and prevent the rise of sea levels. We already see Venice sink by sea water. Venice government spend 5.5 billion euro for build Massive sea wall to prevent the upcoming sea water. We must see this problem into holistic approach in many ways. The solution is we need to stop carbon emission and make green infrastructure as priority of our development. With major effort of everyone in this world we can hope that the place that we live can sustain in the future.

    Alex Jackson, Geography as notes [Online] Available at
    The Balance, Rising Sea Level Effects, Projections, and Solutions [Online] Available at

  3. In my opinion, this is the actual what commonly called “Smart City”. In particular, the infrastructure design is smart enough to prevent the city from disaster. Besides, all districts are already to respond to the disaster threat, that it could make a mess the city life.

    In my perspective, those strategies that presented in Denmark and China that it could be contextual in two aspects into “smart approach design”:
    aware of the natural threat that it depending on the characteristic of local climate (particular in rainfall), and
    understanding the environment characters and circumstance, that it is addressed to the soil type and topography.

    By two aspects that I mentioned above, at least their design principals were designed well that adaptive with natural characters. Furthermore, all infrastructures were created by taking a concept as a barrier shied to protect cities from disaster, even though it might be caused by nature or human. Besides, I expect their urban fabrics are “smart” enough to prevent inhabitant from that threat.

    For me, an urban with “smart system” it is should have worked, responding, and guiding automatically without subsystem or computerize system to do those tasks. However, recently a smart city commonly identic with technology devices and apps, but designers (urban, landscape, and architect) must have an intuition to design an intelligent passive design that it is meet up with a green sustainable design. For instance, an urban planner and designer should have to understand how allocated buffer zone in upper-level terrain to prevent the lowest terrain areas, safe from any threat that in particular case is the flood. By this I mean, other infrastructure, such as road, housing, and public space, should be built by following the design guidelines that contextual with the environment, so that it will be created a “smart passive design”. In conclusion, in my perspective, Denmark and China had been unbeaten in presenting “smart device” infrastructure to maintain water management, from threat becomes a potential source that supporting urban sustainability. They put the “shield” infrastructure on urban landscape element that it is a brilliant idea because they can blend the concept between technical issues and aesthetics finishing.

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