The Landscape Guide

Urban design: floodable landscapes and architecture as a response to global warming and climate change

The landscape, architecture and urban design of floods demands attention. Bangladesh has regular floods; Pakistan was devastated in 2010; Australia and Brazil were inundated in January 2011. It is time to act. Each time there is a flood we should examine the evidence of which properties were flooded and which properties, relatively speaking, escaped flood damage. Historical research can also help. There are many historical precedents:

Egyptian floods and flooding

Egypt used to flooded every year, until the Aswan High Dam was built. Some villages and towns were protected by being designed on mounds. Other villages were surrounded by mud walls which could have been sealed in preparation for floods. The urban pattern was therefore cellular and this gave protection against floods

Mesopotamian floods and flooding

The Flood Tablet, which may have inspired the Bible story of The Flood, told of an especially devastating flood. In more normal times, the first towns known to history were protected by being built on hills (called Tels, or Tells) and, like other walled urban settlements were designed to be protect from flooding by their walls.

Chinese floods and flooding

The urban settlements of ancient China were designed for protection against floods, as well as against invaders, by thick, high mud walls. The gates were sealed against floods with mounds

Lake Dal floods and flooding

Lake Dal, in Kashmir, floods every year - so those who do not live on higher land live on boats. Electricity is distributed by wires high above the maximum flood level.

Dutch floods and flooding

The Polder region of the Western Netherlands is below the level of the North Sea. It has been flooded many times in the past and must be expected to flood many times in the future. The Dutch recognize this and are taking urban design precautions against flooding.

Bihar, Bengal and Bangladesh

The region between the Himalayas tne the Bay of Bengal floods regularly. The problem has not been solved, and probably cannot be solved. The Terrai region has responded to the problem by building many of its roads on embankments. They serve to protect some compartments from flooding; they provide a refuge for those whose homes have been flooded and they provide a flood-resistant communication system



Image courtesy Amir Jina

Image courtesy Mikesten

If danger is absent, a flooded landscape can be very beautiful (Image courtesy Danny)

The Danube flood plain can have a sublime beauty: it has always flooded and the urban settlements are protected (image courtesy cUKi)