The 11th of July The Committee of Climate Change (CCC) published their report ‘Climate Change – is the UK preparing for flooding and water scarcity?’. One of their key messages is the one on the managment of surface water flows. ‘Flooding in urban areas is already increasing as a result of paving over green spaces in towns and cities’. Last decades towns and cities have been using ever less permeable surface materials. As a result of this heavy rainfall causes flooding in the city. This is a widely known problem within many European cities. This could be reduced by making cities greener and using more permeable surface materials in public space and private space. In many cities an old-fashioned sewer systems have been designed to handle the drainage of rainwater. With more soft and green surfaces in the city the overcharge of this system could be prevented. Another less obvious factor in the flooding of cities is the private garden. As the CCC explains: ‘Indicators show that in towns and cities the proportion of gardens that have been paved over increased from 28% of total garden area in 2001 to 48% in 2011. Total garden area in towns and cities has remained roughly constant at around 340,000 hectares of the 1.3 million hectares of total urban extent in England.’ Having a paved garden is easy and have been fashionable too for a long time. But a new trend in gardening could offer a solution. The ‘wild garden’ offers a new approach to gardening. A leading Dutch writer on gardening ‘Romke van der Kaa’ just published the book:’Naturalize, let the plant do the work’. As a Dutch internet bookseller describes: the book …’offers the adventure of plants that go their own way, whether or not directed by us. It delivers beautiful flower meadows, fields or prairie gardens, however small the garden is. An approach that fits comfortably with our current lifestyle, in which there is hardly any time for labor-intensive gardening.’ If the urban populations take up this trend it will contribute to flood prevention in the city.
Sunday July 1st more than 1200 cyclists cycled the streets of St. Petersburg to show that the demand for the popularization of bikes exists in the city. The cyclists gathered included people from all ages. Riding among others the infamous Nevski Prospekt should encourage the Governor to impove the infrastructure for cyclists in the city. Although the winters might be too cold to ride your bike, the spring and summer offers endless white nights to cycle. The bike gains popularity worldwide as a convenient way of travelling around the city. Yet not a lot of urban societies have developed a bike-culture and the necessary infrastructure for it. Bike infrastructure should be on top of the agenda of any city. Using the bike for transport reduces carbon emissions, keeps people fit and more over is simply the fastest way to travel within the city. The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is maybe the best known example of a bike-city. Within the innercity more than 55% of the daily journeys is done by bike. Giving priority to the bikes means creating bikelanes and creating spaces to park bikes on the streets. Above all it requires a change of urban culture where no longer the car is the dominant consumer of public space. In the Smart City the car will inevitably loose ground.
Sendai Oasis – 1000 Rain Gardens, Tohoku University, Japan wins the Smart Cities Award at the Dutch Archtitecture Biënnale in Rotterdam.
According to the Netherlands Architecture Institute: “this project examines alternatives for the design of the city of Sendai, Japan, following the effects of the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. In order to protect residents against extreme temperatures (heat islands) and from the effects of heavy rainfall, the Tohoku University proposes a network of small ‘rain gardens’. This network will provide a sustainable solution for water recycling and create green public spaces in the city. The jury was very impressed by the completeness of this plan, the whole seems to have a significantly larger impact than its individual parts.”
The Tohoku University which has been immediately rebuilt after the earthquake has a testgarden at the faculty terrain. According to the website of Sendai Oasis: “Creating a Sustainable City based on its Water System, Aobayama Rain Garden (ARG) proposes a multi-environmental control device that originally functions for the recovery of rain water, Infiltration areas and groundwater replenishment, thus acting as an effective environmental device linking the Keywords of Low-carbon society, Heat Island control, Energy recycling, Bio-diversity and Disaster aid spot with Emergency water supply. BY using ITC networks, real time monitoring is possible for all the data such as storage water levels, wind velocity related to thermal comfort index and green energy consumption degree via smart meters.”