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How "sponge city" Rotterdam plans urban water conservancy construction

   Rotterdam has always been an active practitioner of innovative design, finding solutions throughout the urban space according to the dynamic changes in water resources, thereby building a "sponge city" and enhancing defense against meteorological disasters. In the past decade, a series of innovative designs have emerged in Rotterdam including floating districts, urban water storage facilities, water-absorbing green roofs, etc.



  The Port of Rotterdam is located at the mouth of the Rhine Delta, and climate change has increased the flood risk in the delta and the waterfront: increased water volumes from the upper Rhine; rising sea levels, increasing storm surges from the sea; delta land at a fixed annual rate Speed ​​down.

Water Plaza in Rotterdam


  The Water Plaza in Rotterdam is a good example of an urban water planning project.

  The water plaza is located in the center of a modern building complex, surrounded by school buildings, theaters, and parking lots. The main body of the square consists of 3 man-made pools.

  From a distance, it looks like 3 drained "swimming pools" of different sizes and shades. The "bottom of the pool" is painted with blue geometric patterns; from a closer look, it looks like a sunken basketball court and ancient Greece. A period amphitheater with top-to-bottom steps around the perimeter.



  The 3 pools in the water square are giant water reservoirs. During the rainy season, the pools will be flooded with rainwater, forming 3 small ponds to relieve the pressure on the city's drainage system. In the less rainy season, it is another scene, becoming a performance stage, roller skating field, basketball or football field. People can also sit on the steps to rest or cool off in the shade.

  The designer created three channels, ditch, well, and water wall to collect rainwater. The pools are connected by shallow stainless steel drains, and the rainwater from the surrounding streets flows into the pools along the drains, so that there will be no stagnant water on the road. The rainwater from the roofs of the surrounding high-rise buildings is connected to the ground through the drainage pipes, and then pumped to the stone platform slightly above the ground by the water pump, and finally flows into the pool along the gutter.



  The water wall is set in a deep pool, and the rainwater from further around the square flows out from the water wall to form a waterfall, which finally fills the pool, thus forming a complete waterlogging prevention and rainwater utilization system.

  The existing sewer system and river channel cannot effectively relieve the surface water that surges in rainy days, the streets are prone to flooding, and the underground rainwater storage system is very expensive. Water Plaza provides a "two-in-one" solution to this problem, providing different functional spaces in different seasons.



  In rainy days, a water storage space is formed. When the urban canal has enough space to accommodate the water flow, the water in the square pool will be discharged and transformed into an urban public space. The Water Plaza is an innovative solution to prevent flooding, unclog sewers and improve water quality and living conditions in cities.

green roof


  Overlooking Rotterdam from above, you can see many green roofs. They not only decorate the sky of the city, they are more like sponges to absorb rainwater and relieve the pressure of rainwater discharge during heavy rain.

  Rotterdam has green roofs with huge potential for water storage, biodiversity, renewable energy and more. In the future, Rotterdam also plans to build a 10,000-square-meter yellow roof that can install 1.25MW of renewable energy, and an 80,000-square-meter blue roof that can store 2,000 cubic meters of water.



  After the Rotterdam Hofplain train station was shut down, the top of the train station was transformed into a "hanging garden". This is the longest roof in the Netherlands, covered with lawns, planted with fruit trees, shrubs and vegetables, as well as naive "artificial sheep" made of grass, just like an organic farm.

  Usually, citizens can relax on the roof; in rainy days, the roof is a temporary water storage facility that effectively slows down the flow rate of rainwater. According to statistics, green roofs can intercept 60% to 70% of precipitation, which is gradually absorbed and evaporated by plants a few hours after the rain.



  A special installation "Rain Letter" has also been installed on the roof garden.

  "Yunxin" is a rainwater buffer tank that collects unretained rainwater and intelligently allocates and stores water according to predicted weather conditions.

  As extreme weather increases, prolonged periods of drought and short periods of heavy rainfall alternate, placing a significant burden on sewers. With the "rain letter" water tank, the precipitation collected on the roof is not directly discharged into the sewer, but is introduced into the "rain letter" storage.



  "Yuxin" has a built-in solar-powered intelligent weather forecast monitoring system: during dry periods, water is accurately stored to provide water to the surrounding green spaces; once heavy rain is expected, the water tank will automatically drain to make room for the upcoming rain.

  In order to encourage the construction of green roofs on private buildings, the city government of Rotterdam provides subsidies to citizens based on the area of ​​green roofs, and also collects different sewage taxes every year according to the amount of precipitation discharged from the roof. The less the discharge, the lower the tax.

  Rotterdam currently has more than 220,000 square meters of green roofs. There's even an award-winning festival - Rotterdam Rooftop Day. Green roofs are part of a climate adaptation strategy, and challenges related to water, greenery, renewable energy, air quality and lack of space can all be addressed by developing an integrated approach to green roofs.


  Green roof technology can effectively meet multi-purpose needs, including urban agriculture, solar panels, water storage and even sports facilities. These spaces can make a huge contribution to the sustainability and viability of central Rotterdam.

  It contributes to an atmosphere conducive to business and tourism, as well as an attractive and healthy environment for young families and professionals. According to the goal set by the municipal government, by 2030, the city will build at least 1 million square meters of green roofs.



Increase water storage areas outside the city


  The Rhine Delta is mainly composed of peat and lakebed polders. Due to the high cost of polder maintenance, rising sea levels and the effects of tidal movements, the infiltration of salt water into the inland polders has become farther and farther away.

  In the long run, it seems inevitable that some of the lower lakebed polders will be restored to the lake. Agriculture will suffer as a result, but the water balance in the lowland areas will be greatly improved, and the quality of the landscape will be improved as a result.

  Through the unique polder layout in the delta area, the Netherlands reserves a large amount of buffer land, and some polders are planned as flood retention areas; in the rainy season, water flows into the polders with lower elevations through the canal system to form temporary storage, and in the dry season, the water enters the polders from the storage area, and uses for irrigation.



Urban Resilient Infrastructure Planning


  1. Vertical evacuation planning (involving crisis safety management in the event of a flood);

  2. Rotterdam-The Hague emergency airport (focusing on clean technology and water safety in the airport environment as a "safe haven", an example of water safety in the Netherlands);

  3 . Floating Cities (Explore innovative designs for floating houses, floating docks, floating farms at sea, water treatment, etc.).


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