According to Smartplanet: “For Parisians wondering if it’s a good day for a jog or a bike across the city, soon they’ll only need look up to learn how clean the air is. Baptized the Observatoire Atmosphérique Generali, a new, one-of-a-kind hot air balloon at the Parc André Citroën will take flight this spring thanks to a new partnership with the European insurance group Generali and the balloon’s designer Aerophile. The balloon will visibly inform about 400,000 Parisians daily about the air quality near traffic and away from roads. Moreover, the balloon will carry new instruments to study air samples above Paris. The balloon is part of Generali’s commitment to addressing preventable health costs related to poor air quality in France. A recent European study of nine French cities revealed that none respect the World Health Organization’s guidelines for appropriate amounts of ozone and fine particulate matter in the air. The study suggests that nearly 3,000 yearly deaths, 1,000 hospitalizations, and lowered life expectancy could all be avoided if France cleaned up the air. The Observatoire Atmosphérique Generali will play a role in monitoring such conditions in Paris. And the insurance moguls at Generali know who is paying for much of the nearly 5 billion euros that the study says could be saved if France cleaned up its act. In tandem with City Hall, the observatory will hold classes every morning for Parisian children, offering up to 30 people at time the chance to get a bird’s eye view of the capital while learning about air quality. The partnership between Generali, Aerophile, and the city will last five years starting this spring.” Picture: Aerophile
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.
Let the Wild Raingarden do the work.
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.”