Kevin Smith

February 21, 2023

Preparing cities for extreme weather using nature

Four in five cities worldwide are at risk from extreme weather. Nature is a proven front line of defence in efforts to adapt and increase urban resilience.  

People relaxing at cloudburst park with football field
A consequence of our warming planet is that communities worldwide will face more extreme weather events in the future. Ramboll partners with cities around the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of nature-based solutions for climate adaption. Three examples stand out.
Protecting Copenhagen from cloudbursts
In Copenhagen, Ramboll helped redevelop Remisparken, an overlooked urban space that now integrates climate adaptation design elements, lush nature, and outdoor activities into the community. The 35,000 square meter area includes a natural-appearing retention basin to support biodiversity and collect excess water during cloudbursts and is part of the Danish capital’s Cloudburst Masterplan. Among its striking features is a 2,000 cubic metre capacity trench running the length of the park with an elevated walking path for visitors, and a skate park.
World’s longest skatepark doubles as flood defence
In nearby Høje Taastrup, in Denmark’s capital region, our experts not only created beautiful recreational spaces, they helped disguise the area’s rainwater drainage system as the world’s longest skatepark. Rainwater travels through bioretention facilities, the skatepark, and onward to a pond. The collected rainwater then irrigates the surrounding park. During heavy rains, excess rainwater is led from the pond to the skatepark which acts as a detention pond for future community water management.
Increasing coastal resilience with native oyster colonies
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, in New York City, Ramboll led construction management on the 700m-long Living Breakwaters Project to prevent erosion and protect Staten Island’s coastline from storm damage, large waves, and flooding.
The breakwaters are designed with an outer layer of ecologically enhanced concrete armour units that improve water quality and restore habitats for marine flora and fauna species, including the once native oysters that have disappeared due to environmental degradation. The oysters filter water and increase water quality, while holding the breakwaters in place. The project is also a step forward for the community after the 2012 Hurricane Sandy damaged the Staten Island shoreline, businesses, homes, and lives.
Nature-based solutions create multiple benefits
"Green infrastructure projects are more effective and typically cheaper to construct than traditional grey infrastructure projects, so it is just a matter of time before they become the norm,” says Kevin Smith, senior construction manager for Living Breakwaters.
“By the end of the decade we will start seeing many more projects like this one come to fruition. The benefits of a project like this will speak for themselves and certainly inspire other local governments to engage in similar nature-based solutions," he adds.
Nature-based solutions not only help protect and restore natural ecosystems and biodiversity, they also offer benefits such as green jobs, resiliency against natural disasters, better public health, and the creation of new recreational spaces for local communities.
Want to know more about nature-based solutions? Contact Kevin Smith, Project Manager at Ramboll.

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