Copenhagen Park Redesign Protects Neighborhood From Flooding

Sunken pools will be able to handle up to 18,000 cubic meters of water. 

(Credit: SLA)

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A network of sunken basins and water-filtering designs will help alleviate flooding and create new social spaces in a Copenhagen neighborhood, reports Dezeen. Landscape studio SLA and engineering firm Ramboll won a competition to design the plan for the Inner Nørrebro area with a project they call The Soul of Nørrebro. The design links Hans Tavsens Park with nearby Peblinge Lake, using a corridor of “blue-green” spaces that can hold water in the event of sudden flashes of heavy rain, called cloudbursts.

“Our solution is based on creating a robust city nature that both solves the specific problem of handling torrential rain to avoid flooding, while at the same time creating a new and coherent series of urban spaces that offer stronger social community, greener and more natural experiences, and new creative opportunities for all Copenhageners,” says SLA partner Stig L. Andersson.

The redesigned park will include a sunken basin that can be used for sports in dry weather, and act as a retention pond during storms. Water channels will feed the excess water into Peblinge Lake, while plants along the way filter out contaminants. Stepping stones will allow people to cross the water channel, and a bike path will run alongside. Altogether, the park will be able to handle up to 18,000 cubic meters of water at once.

“The urban space project will be a flagship example of how cities can deal with cloudbursts in dense inner-city neighborhoods while adding unique social, cultural and natural values to increase the life quality of its residents,” says Christian Nyerup Nielsen, a climate expert at Ramboll.

Work on The Soul of Nørrebro is expected to begin in 2019, and be complete by 2022. A similar design has been used to transform the Copenhagen neighborhood of St. Kjeld into what as been called the world’s first climate-change-adapted neighborhood. After a 2011 cloudburst caused $1 billion worth of damage, the city replaced many of the neighborhood squares with bowl-shaped green spaces to retain rainwater. Some streets were redesigned to also work as more effective stormwater channels. Plus, it’s prettier.

“If the rain comes, it will be a spectacle rather than a problem,” one resident told Al Jazeera. “And if we never have a flood or cloudburst again, it’s still value for money because we got a more beautiful neighborhood.”

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Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at

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Tags: parksstormwater managementcopenhagen

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