WESTBOURNE URBAN VALLEY – HYDRO-LOGICAL URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
RECOVERY OF THE HYDRO-LOGICAL NETWORK OF LONDON AS STRATEGY AGAINST FLOOD
This project focuses on the cycle of flood and drought which climate change experts are predicting for the future of the UK. Here, MARIA JOSE YURISIC A, a recent student on the MA Landscape & Urbanism course at Kingston University, proposes a strategy to deal with rain water excess and scarcity in urban areas, creating a new typology of urban valley. This blog post will be followed up with further sections from the project over the next few weeks.
INTRODUCTION: URBAN WATER
“Water is very present in the urban milieu, from seafronts and rivers to the water supply and sewage systems. With the increasing scarcity of this resource, one may even wonder if is not time to consider cities as complex hydraulic systems, as a series of watersheds that must be managed with the greatest care. Hydraulic engineering thus represents a fundamental dimension in the construction of the urban landscape”
(Picon, 2005, p. 99).
From drought to flood, water is becoming one of the most critical problems around the world. However, it is predicted that the dilemma with water in the future will be more related with the availability of it during certain periods of the year than an absolute lack of the resource. It is predicted that rainfall will become more seasonal, with more rain during winters and less in summer. This seasonality of the rain may become more and more extreme causing the conditions which cities have to deal will continue to deteriorate, which means that floods will become worse, so as droughts.
The project proposes a strategy to deal with the rain water excess and scarcity in urban areas, creating a new typology of urban valley. This typology seeks to restore the hydro-logical network that used to exist in the Greater London area, not just as a functional solution to “solve” the current and future water problems, but a way to understand and incorporate water management into the urban development planning. The project is conceived as part of the London Green Grid, as a new layer added to the plan. A series of urban valleys will be created through London, following the paths of the existent or hidden rivers within the urban area. This new infrastructure of valleys will aim to connect the unconnected patches of green areas in order to counteract the effects of the climate change such us urban heat island, water scarcity and flood, focusing primarily on this last as the main goal.
The project is proposed as an alternative to the mega-infrastructure proposals that are currently under discussion as the appropriate (and only possible) solutions for the future floods in London, such as the Thames Tunnel and the massive enlargement of the Thames Barriers. This alternative aims not just deal with “the problem”, as something that has to be solved (meaning that “somebody” will do something), but also engage citizens with the concern of the urban landscape identity, development and management.
LONDON CONTEXT: LONDON GREEN GRID
- Green Grid (Green) Areas Series of unconnected green areas
- Managing Climate Change Fluvial flooding (rivers) and tidal flooding (Thames + Lea Valley)
4. Rivers and navigation canals
PROPOSAL: THE BIGGER PICTURE – LONDON URBAN GREENSCAPE
Like many older cities around the world, the vast majority of London is served by a combined sewerage system, collecting sewage (from toilets, sinks and washing machines etc) together with rainwater run-off from roads, roofs and pavements.The magnificent interceptor sewers, constructed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette following the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858, are still the backbone of London’s sewer network today. Rebuilding this system, using modern methods, would cost £50-60 billion today.
…..to be continued.