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Climate change adaptation

Flood prevention

Nature based solutions


The Soul of Nørrebro – A New Model for Climate Adaptation and Cloudburst Management

12. December 2016

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SLA architects
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Water – whether the increase of it, the pollution of it or the lack of it – is going to be one of the main urban challenges of the 21st Century. SLA’s project "The Soul of Nørrebro" addresses this issue through a new Nordic Model to city development. It is a highly scalable model based on co-creation, dialogue and humanistic nature-based design solutions, which simultaneously solves both physical, social and cultural challenges in our cities.

In a world where the effects of global climate change are becoming still more severe, it has become apparent that our cities are not adapted to the increasing temperatures and rainfall that is the direct consequence of destabilised weather conditions.

The City of Copenhagen is, just like almost every other big city, facing critical climate changes and a growing population. Copenhagen’s challenges range from heavy cloudbursts, urban heat islands and an increased carbon footprint, to waste management, water pollution and an increasing social and cultural segregation. SLA’s project The Soul of Nørrebro aims to address all of these challenges by seeing water not as a problem, but as a resource. The project is a flagship example of how the New Nordic City Model, based on co-creation, dialogue and humanistic nature-based design, can solve our urban challenges, while enhancing life in our cities.

The project is an integrated urban design and climate adaptation project that combines city nature, local community and smart cloudburst solutions, building upon the area’s existing qualities and unique local spirit. The entire project will act as a natural rainwater catchment basin, and during cloudbursts Inner Nørrebro will be capable of handling up to 18,000 m3 of water at once. The excess rainwater will be led via Korsgade out into the Copenhagen Lakes. On the way, the water is purified biologically by the specifically designed city nature biotopes that are established along Korsgade. The water thus will be a visible feature in the cityscape while contributing to irrigation and improving the local microclimate, creating a series of new, blue-green public spaces for everyone to enjoy. Even in dry periods, there will be purling water in the streets, when the phosphorus filled water from the lake, is pumped into the site and cleansed by the same biotopes.

Thus, the area’s hydrological, biological and social circuits work together in a strong symbiosis that not only climate proof inner Nørrebro, but also has a positive effect on the entire City of Copenhagen. The Soul of Nørrebro recently won the Nordic Built Cities Challenge Award - Scandinavia's largest and most prestigious architecture competition.  An independent jury emphasised its high aesthetic value and stressed the fact that the project provides a new, scalable model, for climate adaptation and rainwater management in our cities.

The project is made in a collaboration with Rambøll, Arki Lab, Gadeidræt, Aydin Soei and Saunders Architecture. Visualisations: Beauty and the Bit