For cities that are settled below sea level, dealing with copious amounts of rainfall year round can be a destructive challenge. But as the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute predicts, Rotterdam has an even damper outlook – over the next century rainfall in the area is expected to increase by 5% with an increase in intensity of 10%. Rather than pouring heaps of money into expanding the sewer systems, officials have decided to turn to designers Florian Boer and Marco Vermeulen. In a project called “Waterpleinen” the pair have developed a much less costly and uncomplicated alternative that combines a vivid public space with a place for water collection!
The Waterpleinen, or Watersquares, will consist of a network of surface reservoirs that collect any excess water from the surrounding neighborhoods, protecting public and private properties from flooding and damage. If one reservoir reaches capacity, the excess water will then overflow into another basin, preventing contamination that would typically take place underground. Once the rain has come to a halt the collected water will drain to a nearby body of water, seep into the soil, or serve as a grey-water system for the surrounding houses — water is never expected to stay in a basin for long periods.
The system not only provides for more effective channeling of public dollars; it also contributes an enhancement to the urban fabric by creating new communal spaces. Whether wet or dry, the Watersquares are envisioned as dynamic meeting places in which anyone can play, frolic and engage in sports. Originally developed in 2005, Waterpleinen has recently become official urban policy and at least 25 squares will be constructed throughout Rotterdam in the coming years. A full-scale prototype able to handle 1,000 cubic meters of water (equal to 5,000 bathtubs filled to the brim) is anticipated to be complete by the summer of 2010.