As an impact of Climate Change, heavy rainfall events already became more intense and likely become even more intense in future. Extreme amounts of precipitations in a short period of time are called cloudburst, leading to pluvial flooding events, causing damages of infrastructure and properties. Thus, especially cities with a high population density such as Copenhagen are under pressure of adapting to the changing weather conditions as the space for implementing measures is limited. Therefore, solutions which combine integrated urban design and climate adaptation have moved to the spotlight in the achievement of climate resilience. These measures are so-called soft or nature-based adaptation measures, using green areas as increased drainage area and thereby reducing the risk of flooding for the neighbouring areas. Furthermore, these urban spaces are not only smart cloudburst solutions, but also include several co-benefits.
Copenhagen was hit by a severe storm with extreme precipitation on the 2nd July 2011, causing major damages of more than 800 million Euros, especially in the Østerbro and Nørrebro area. Consequently, the capital launched the ambitious “Cloudburst management plan” adapting to pluvial flooding events.
Tours focusing on climate plans
In general, all our Green Bike Tours focus among others on urban design of the future, smart city solutions and water management, relevant for climate resilience to water. Our Tour 1 in particular focusses on the Copenhagen Climate Plan which entails more than 50 initiatives in different areas, one of them is adjusting to the weather of the future including more intense heavy rainfall events. Our Tour 3 focuses on social sustainability, where human well-being is at the centre of attention. This is connected to the co-benefits of the urban green areas which will be described with two different examples in the following sections. Additionally, the examples are located in Østerbro and Nørrebro which are explored during Tour 3.
The Climate Resilient Neighbourhood Østerbro
The showcase for climate change solutions
The neighbourhood of Sct. Kjeld’s neighborhood, Østerbro will be Copenhagen’s first climate resilient neighbourhood as part of the Climate Adaptation Plan. Implementations are taking place in the next few years and are used as showcase for other parts of Copenhagen in the next 20 years. This highlights the importance and innovativeness of the “Climate Resilient Neighbourhood Østerbro” solution. The project is an outcome of the cooperation between ‘The city of Copenhagen’, HOFOR, The Environment Centre Østerbro and the residents of the neighbourhood.
The project website (http://klimakvarter.dk/en/) describes the following overall vision:
“To turn the neighbourhood of Østerbro into the greenest inner-city neighbourhood in Copenhagen and at the same time equip the area to withstand the large volumes of rain we have experienced in the torrential downpours that have occurred in recent years.”
The project entails greener streets, backyards, and public spaces. Thereby, the project focusses on a new way of managing rainwater: “Instead of viewing rain as a problem we have to get rid of, we choose to view the rainwater as a resource we would like to focus on. Creating landscaped channels in the widest streets in our neighbourhood, which can discharge the water to the harbour, means that the water stays on the surface, where it cannot cause any damage.”
As the entire neighbourhood develops to become climate resilience, the plan consists of several smaller solutions, the projects are finished in different years. The first completed climate change adapted urban space is Tåsinge Plads at an area of approximately 7.500 m², it is the result of a public participation process by the neighbourhood. The project “Tåsinge Plads” includes several design solutions managing water, these are; control and retain rainwater from the surroundings and prevent water from reaching the sewers, the downhill gradients channel water into underground tanks, as well as the bicycle paths act as stormwater channels. Overall, Tåsinge Plads can delay and percolate rainwater from a surrounding area of 4,300 m².
Besides managing rainwater, the project entails several other benefits or so-called co-benefits. The main co-benefits of the project are the cooling effect combatting the Urban-Heat-Island-Effect as well as the creation of an urban biodiversity hotspot, attracting important pollinators in the area.
Furthermore, the open space improves the human well-being due to providing a meeting point and space to relax as well as playground for children. In summer, there is also a small fountain system for children to play. Overall, the project strengthens the community and familiarity of the neighborhood, leading to an improved social sustainability.
Hans Tavsen’s Park ‘The Soul of Nørrebro’
The Hans Tavsen’s Park project in inner Nørrebro ‘The Soul of Nørrebro’ is an outstanding example of a holistic approach combining climate adaptation with nature by establishing a birthplace for biodiversity and focusing on co-creation. The project finished its planning period and will be realized in the next 2-3 years. The area is with 85.000m² a large-scale project having an impact on the entire city of Copenhagen. The project has similar purposes than the Tåsinge Plads project, forming a strong symbiosis between hydrological, natural and social benefits. ‘The Soul of Nørrebro’ focusses on sustainable water management including recycling rainwater to provide neighbouring areas and acting as a rainwater catchment area during cloudbursts. The new urban open space will have a positive impact on the water qualities of the lakes in Copenhagen as well.
Furthermore, open spaces are created for sports activities as well as playground areas for children and gardening activities will take place, strengthening the human well-being and therefore social sustainability. Once the project is finished, another welcoming smart solution is created, having the role as a flagship example for further urban designs of the future.
We can be excited about how the urban cities will change in future and to adapt to changing weather conditions. Exciting and holistic soft climate adaptation measures to cloudbursts have been described in this blogpost, but there are many other exciting urban designs of the future, improving sustainability and climate resilience. Join our Tour 1 and 3 to learn more about our social and climate proof Copenhagen of tomorrow https://greenbiketours.org/copenhagen/
Written by Green Guide, Sarah Hartwig