Drastic measures are required to offer delta cities permanent social and economic security and prosperity. The insecurities as a result of current economic developments and the impact of climate change require a long-term vision and short-term action. This is a subject of debate in virtually all delta cities. But what are the parameters of this vision, and which short-term actions do we need? Visionaries from around the globe were invited to participate in the international ‘Delta City of the Future’ ideas competition and to submit their design for a climate change resilient delta city for the future. By now, seven teams have made it through the first selection round. The winning design will be converted into a workable plan for the Stadshavens (City Ports) district in Rotterdam.
Today, nearly half of the world’s population lives in large cities, predominantly delta cities. This explosive growth, combined with the possible consequences of climate change will have a major impact on these river delta areas, confronting them with huge challenges. The participants in the competition are invited to find solutions for urban problems, and for the current and future threats posed by these changes.
The purpose of the design competition is to bring together professionals from various fields of expertise and allow them to share knowledge on the future resilience of delta cities. ‘We received 57 entries from 19 different countries, from which we selected seven nominees,’ declared Chris Zevenbergen of UNESCO-IHE, one of the initiators and organizers of the design competition. Zevenbergen is a member of the international professional jury under the chairpersonship of Tracy Metz. The seven nominated design teams are invited by ‘Delta City of the Future’ – all expenses paid – to come to Rotterdam to participate in a ‘Pressure Cooking Session’, a 24-hour marathon session during the ‘Deltas in Times of Climate Change’ conference that will be held late in September. Zevenbergen: ‘We challenge them to apply their plans to the Stadshavens district in Rotterdam with the help of international experts.’ The winning team of this ‘design around the clock’ marathon session will get an opportunity to present their ideas to administrators, scientists and international corporate delegates at the next delta conference in 2012.
Feasible and realistic
The ideas submitted by the design teams – consisting of a maximum of three designers – were assessed on a number of criteria. ‘Innovative qualities, feasibility and economic viability were among the aspects we focused on,’ explained Zevenbergen. ‘In addition, the designs should relate to at least one of the three following themes: waterfront locations, infrastructure, public space or cultural heritage. Moreover, we have instructed the contestants to give due consideration not only to the location, but to the time aspect as well; all of the submitted plans should offer a long-term solution and clear indications as to how they can be implemented.’
The initial focus of the seven nominated design teams during the marathon session will be on the Stadshavens district in Rotterdam, but eventually their concepts should be applicable to delta cities around the globe. ‘For this reason, the competing teams will be guided by experts during the marathon session, professionals who are thoroughly familiar with the international arena,’ stated Zevenbergen. ‘Specialists from organizations such as UN Habitat, the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, the Delta Committee, NWP, PBL, IBM, the Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC), Dutch Delta Design 2012, Movares and Delft University of Technology will guide the winning design teams towards their presentation before the jury on 28 September.’
The winning design team will be announced on 29 September during the conference. The website www.unesco-ihe.org/Delta-City-of-the-Future contains extensive descriptions of the seven nominated designs. The information gathered from the design competition will be shared through Connecting Delta Cities, the international knowledge network initiated by the City of Rotterdam, to help other delta cities to benefit from the solutions found in Rotterdam.