Science, innovation, and technology are important components of urban sustainability, but who would have thought a park could provide some mitigating and adaptive solutions? In Copenhagen, Denmark, they have taken advantage of design, public spaces, and sustainability and transformed it into the square known as Tåsinge Plads. At first glance, it seems like a typical park space where children can play, young adults can relax, and elderly can sit and chat, but towering above are sculptures shaped like upside-down umbrellas. “During heavy rains, the flowerbeds fill with water and wait to drain until the storm runoff subsides. The upside-down umbrellas collect water to be used later to nourish the plantings (citiscope.org).”
Question: How does the project address all 5 factors for sustainable development (environment, economics, social equity, energy and health)?
- Environment: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that extreme weathers will become more frequent in Denmark, with extreme downpours and droughts than ever before, so using this option can definitely help mitigate stormwater and flood damages, as well as provide water for 100 small community gardens.
- Economics: By dealing with the flood water at street level through parks, as well as other methods, they are able to spend half the cost of other plans such as expanding the sewer and drainage system and “potentially save the city an estimated $2.3 billion over a 100-year period (citiscope.org),” and create 13,000 jobs.
- Social Equity: It provides working public spaces that locals of all walks of life can enjoy, while simultaneously mitigating floods and helping the city adapt to climate change. It also increases community engagement because it requires citizen-led initiatives to build community gardens and to bring meaning to the space and its future.
- Energy: It is able to save energy by having bouncy floor panels above the storage tank. Children can actually jump and play on top of these panels and provide the energy to pump the water through the pipes.
- Health: These upside-down umbrellas are incorporated into parks and green spaces that definitely support good health and sustain wellness. The benefits are great and not limited to: improved air quality, general mood, attitude, reduced stress, improved mental health and function, and even improved interpersonal relationships and community empowerment.