Water – Ecology – Transformation


We need to rethink our urban design and spatial structures. In the Northern Europe 30 percent of all built-up and paved areas are at risk from flooding

Rikke Jeppesen, Architect, RAMBØLL, rethinkwater.dk

70 students from 1st master Urban Design and TU-Delft Architecture participated in a three days long workshop, where the task was to create innovative design proposals for urban dwellings, capable of adapting to the increasing masses of water. In the studio, water was not only thought of as a technical issue, a threat and a nuisance that needs to be drained into sewers, but as a potential for creating aesthetic and liveable places. The theme of the studio was everyday living with water, and the product was design solution for the Gabriel site, which is located near Godsbanearealet (the freight train area) in Aalborg. During the studio, the students have received inputs from Flemming Rafn Thomsen, partner from Tredje Natur (Third Nature), Anne Juel Andersen, urban planner from Aalborg Municipality, and professors from TU-Delft and Aalborg University.







The Gabriel site’s placement between two hills creates an area with flooding problems. The area has to handle the water coming from the hillsides and upstream from Østerådalen (the Valley of the Eastern Stream). If the water is not handle at the Gabriel site, it will flow into the city centre of Aalborg. The artificial lake is the highest area of the site, which makes it one of the last places to flood.






Rafting in the Reservoir is a local flooding solution, which solves some of the flooding problem in the inner city by reserving the water at a big detention pond. Often detention ponds are wastelands or recreational spaces. The grid system and the floating houses (see master plan below) introduce a new function of the pond. Rafting in the Reservoir is a recreational residential area, which at the same time works as a detention pond. It is very important to notice that with the solution the reservoir can be used when dry as well as when­ flooded.

Rafting in the Reservoir is a vernacular group housing typology, which locates a cluster of houses on the water, approached by a network of floating streets and platforms. Each of the houses are constructed on a platform which can be permitted to float upwards in times of rising water levels, and back down when the water recedes. This alternative approach to ‘Living on the Water’ encourages a greater sense of community, and retains the entire park as a public amenity.

Rafting in the Reservoir has an ecological approach with its light touch on its surroundings. The project changes the topography of the Gabriel site and the surrounding making sure that it is the Rafting in the Reservoir area, which is getting flooded instead of the surroundings. Two dams are introduced in the Northern part of the stream Østerå. These dams regulate the amount of water running through and going into the city centre. Rafting in the Reservoir makes it possible to flood an enormous area, which makes it a system that can handle approximately 113.000 cubic meters of water. The grid is very flexible. Different houses can be plugged in, which gives the area a residential capacity from 0 square meters to about 18.000 square meters. It is even possible to make an area with a higher density, but it will influence the recreational quality of the site. Rafting in the Reservoir is always adapting to the weather conditions.