As part of an international team, atelier PRO has designed a residential district in the city of Norwich in the UK, which could partly be submerged under water without causing any nuisance or damage. Instead of holding back the water, as is customary, the water is used to develop nature and to make the district more attractive. Comparable ‘flood resistant’ districts could also be developed in the Netherlands. This project at the edge of Norwich, with a size of 20 hectares, is called Deal Ground. The former industrial area has lain undeveloped for more than twenty years and will now be redeveloped to become a residential district with about 700 single-family dwellings, apartments, and a small shopping centre. Two new bridges over the River Yare and River Wensum, will enclose the area. These watercourses are the primary focus in the design.
Due to the River Yare and River Wensum, parts of the area could be flooded; at some places with a possibility of once in every twenty years. Instead of holding back the water, the water is used to make the area ecologically attractive. By lowering the bottom in some parts, the water is given even more space. The parts where the housing is planned, will, by contrast, be raised to protect them from floods. As a consequence, the existing ecological system – the marshlands – will be protected and even enhanced.
As the water plays an important part, the design has been constructed very meticulously. For the various scenarios, the designers have investigated the exact water levels, directions and speed of the flows, and how the occupants can, at all times, leave their houses safely. The results have been incorporated in the design, so that practically all the houses have a carefree view onto the central green-blue corridor.
Besides ecological solutions, Deal Ground also offers environmentally friendly solutions. Cars stay out of sight as much as possible, thanks to some smart parking innovations. The use of bicycles and public transport is actively stimulated. A nearby power station provides durable heat and energy.
We think this also offers possibilities for the Netherlands: ‘the most important lesson is to treat items which at first seem to be obstacles, as an opportunity.’
The costs of the project have been estimated at 110 million pounds. As soon as the Outline Planning Application has been approved, expectations are that the construction of this new residential district can be started in 2014.