Dordrecht plans to manage and prevent floods

25 February 2021 - Published by Elin Ljunggren
Sea level rise as a result of climate changes is a reality many countries and societies are now facing. Planning to prevent flooding and how to deal with flooding is part of the strategic development of cities throughout the world. In Dordrecht, the Netherlands, the case study conducted within the C5a project targets this objective and investigates how to combine sustainable development in a city district with a shelter function for citizens in case of flooding. - Dordrecht is not just a city, it’s also an island. Due to its location in a transition area between the sea and major rivers, the Island of Dordrecht is very vulnerable to flooding, says Berry Gersonius who advises the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat).


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the Case study


With water surrounding the city, Dordrecht is always looking for additional to the measures that protect it from the water. This have resulted in a water safety plan which adresses crisis management in the event of dikes breaking and the city flooding.

- As it stands, if there’s a flood the people who are not able to leave the city on time are advised to take refuge in their attics. But the higher-situated district ‘De Staart’, which lies outside the dikes, may provide a better and safer alternative – if it is converted into a large-scale temporary shelter, Berry says.

Dordrecht is looking to develop De Staart as a new sustainable district, converting old industrial areas into a mixture of housing, businesses, and essential infrastructure. And they are now also applying research by design to turn the new district into a shelter for flooding in the case of an emergency.

In the case study, Rijkswaterstaat have worked together with the municipality, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) and regional partners to test the Cloud to Coast approach. Experts from these organizations participated in two workshops to develop a future vision for ‘De Staart’ together.

- In the first workshop, sketching a vision for ‘De Staart’ was the central topic. Together, the participants investigated what is needed to set up this location as a large-scale shelter. In the second workshop, the participants confronted the established vision with the future, Berry explains.

The result from this integrated approach is an adaption pathway that takes flood resilience as a starting point and leverage for other challenges, such as the energy transition, biodiversity, and mobility. The visioning process will continue in 2021 with a third workshop and an exhibition.

- After the two workshops, the participants felt that they were not yet ready. There was enthusiasm for a third, closing workshop. This workshop should focus on the question of how the insights gained can be included into actual decision making, says Berry.

- To address actual decisions, we both need specialists and local governments, but in developing a resilient society we should also value and use local knowledge as a credible source of expertise. Public input into the process stretches our thoughts and paradigms to flood risk management, so that we can come up with solutions that fit both the people and the environment. This makes inclusivity is one of the key concerns to address in the year 2021 in Dordrecht.