When water creates community spirit
In Kokkedal, residents are grappling with more than the severe consequences of heavy rains. The run-down town is socially divided and has a reputation as an area with juvenile crime. To address these problems, the town has made social cohesion and safety a crucial element of its climate adaptation plans, using water and greenery to establish outdoor areas that can bring people together and give the area a much-needed boost.
“Creating attractive areas, more interaction between citizens and open spaces that feel safe are the cornerstone of the adaptation plan. At the same time, we hope our citizens will have something to be proud of and a positive story to tell about our town,” says Mayor Thomas Lykke Pedersen.
Professor Khirfan sees Kokkedal as a prime example of a clever, ecosystem-based approach to adaptation, because it focuses on dealing with surface rainwater through greenery, lakes, stream restoration and stormwater basins – all features that create more value for both residents and the ecosystem. Kokkedal is giving itself an extra layer of blue and green infrastructure – a fourth dimension of water and greenery that ensures both climate adaptation and aesthetically pleasing recreational areas.
Jens Veggerby, Ramboll’s head engineer on the Kokkedal project, agrees that it makes good sense to see rain as an asset rather than a liability.
“Water is a valuable resource, and climate change adaptation is about minimising negative impacts and capitalising on the possible opportunities,” Jens Veggerby explains, continuing:
“One of our big concerns is to establish a visual and social connection between water in parks and residential areas by making the water branch out between the buildings, which is visually appealing. Such solutions also enhance the ecosystem, property prices, social cohesion and well-being.”
Seizing green and blue possibilities
In Kokkedal, the first phase of the climate adaptation project has already been completed. Mayor Thomas Lykke Pedersen strolls through the large green and blue recreational area with its restored stream, crossing a wooden bridge over one of the newly established retention basins. The basin perfectly resembles a natural lake, replete with tall reeds and rushes, insects buzzing on the water surface and small fish swimming beneath. Stopping on the bridge, he points to a cluster of homes located close to the climate-adapted area:
“These are the houses that were most damaged in 2010. We’ve now built a dike and widened the water into a broader river with double profile. Hopefully, this will prevent our town from re-experiencing the damage we suffered in 2010,” he says as he steps off the bridge onto the newly constructed footpath.
The mayor walks another few hundred metres to the end of the blue-green area, entering a residential area built of drab concrete and asphalt:
“We haven’t started on this area yet, but when it’s finished in 2017, the water will be detained here and branch out between these houses, and new greenery and cherry trees will be planted. I think it will make the citizens of Kokkedal proud,” he says.