Preserving Urban Watercourses: An Affordable and Ecological Design Approach to Manage Urban Flash Floods

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Ms Rumana Asad, PhD Student at the University of Newcastle will be at this year’s Conference, discussing “Preserving urban watercourses: an affordable and ecological design approach to manage urban flash floods”.

Rumana Asad

The growing awareness of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) confirms its acceptability due to environment friendly and locally preferred approaches. In the age of climate change, EbA entails adaptation strategies and processes that are grounded in the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services often managed by local people and technology. Despite its potential the applications of EbA remain still limited, particularly in the realm of urban design and planning.

In favoring its applications EbA, recent literature attempts establish theoretical connections between ecological design and EbA while dispiriting hard engineering solutions, which seem to be expensive and have negative impacts on ecosystems. Thus for developing cities the use of EbA is particularly important and effective. The theoretical framework of this paper is grounded  on the connections thereby testing it through a case in developing cities. Such a city Khulna has been increasingly affected by flash floods over last decade due to heavy rain every year.

The study investigates the potential of local ecosystem and strategies of ecological design as well as landscape urbanism to reduce these impacts. Since multidisciplinary approaches “participatory and culturally appropriate” are widely recommended, this study employs interviews with local people and experts to identify urban design challenges and to appreciate ecological design integrated with EbA so as to enhance the resilience of urban infrastructure.

This study finds that Khulna’s planning policies focus more on physical planning offering piece-meal based and problem-based solutions only while disregarding incorporating the potentials of EbA.
Additionally, new infrastructure, which is often failed linking to urban watercourses and wetlands and thus increase the city’s imperviousness and surface runoff, thereby posing Khulna more vulnerable to flash flood.

Accordingly, this paper advocates for an interdisciplinary ecological design approach to bring nature back while preserving watercourses so as to increase the resilience of urban infrastructure.

The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.

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