How a new playground is helping Rotterdam deal with its flooding problem

Rotterdam. Image: Pixabay.

Rotterdam is no stranger to water: 80 per cent of our city sits below sea level and we face the effects of climate change on a daily basis. As subsidence and urbanisation increase, our risk of flooding continues to grow.

As one of the first cities in the world to release a comprehensive Resilience Strategy, Rotterdam is keenly aware of how solutions and interventions can yield multiple benefits, addressing multiple resilience challenges simultaneously.

A new water square Frederiksplein, which opened last week in Rotterdam, is one such solution. Under normal circumstances, the water plaza functions as a playground, with seating areas, green space, and a football pitch. Planned in consultation with nearby residents, the water square also features art from the students of the Oscar Romero School. In more extreme conditions, the plaza collects storm water from the vicinity, relieving pressure from the city’s sewer system and mitigating flooding risk to the neighbourhood.

The water square. Image: 100 Resilient Cities.

Perhaps as important, the water plaza helps build social cohesion in the surrounding community of Crooswijk. It helps to beautify the neighbourhood, providing neighbours a place to mingle and spend time with one another, making the community stronger in both good times and bad.

The water square in Frederiksplein is the 4th water square in this city and the Benthemplein water square, the first of its kind, was a key initiative in the city’s Resilience Strategy. And while Rotterdam has been a pioneer in developing this concept as a viable flood mitigation tactic, we can also help cities around the world think differently about their flooding challenges and learn from how others around the world approach theirs.


Multi-functional and multi-benefit solutions are key to building resilience in our city, but also in every city. With limited resources and time, cities must do more with what they have to build on their inherent advantages and learn from their challenges.

Arnoud Molenaar is the chief resilience officer for the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. You can hear him talk about the city’s flood protection plans on a recent episode of Skylines, the CityMetric podcast.

This post was previously published on the 100 Resilient Cities website, and appears here with permission.

 
 
 
 

CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at citymonitor.ai.

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is now a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission is to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

Please visit citymonitor.ai going forward, where you can also sign up for our free email newsletter.


As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our new digs. You can follow City Monitor on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

To our readers, on behalf of the City Monitor team, thank you from all of us for being such loyal CityMetric fans. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.