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✅ 🏙️ Architect-Driven Urban Resilience: Mastering Flood Protection in City Planning

November 9, 2023 | Created by: Andreas Klippe | Comments

Imagine a utopian city 🌆 bursting with life 🌳 and innovation. But this idyll is threatened by an unseen danger – the danger of flooding 🌊. How can an architect build safety 🏗️ into the structure of our urban dreams? How can an engineer construct safe houses for people 🛠️?

Every real estate development project begins with a master plan for the area. This plan must take into account the surroundings and the landscape and show how the investor can achieve a higher return when developing land. Nowadays, it must answer an important question: How can business people, citizens and residents work, live and stay in a building without the constant fear of flooding and the destruction of their properties?

Part 1: A Village shall be built

Let’s take a walk through an imaginary village that shall be built.

Look to the future, and you can see parks with children playing, streets lined with trees, and diverse buildings – a blend of residential, commercial, and administrative facilities.

But beneath its beauty, a question looms:

What if this land is prone to flooding?

Part 2: The Master Planner’s Dilemma

No building is erected without an architectural design and a technical construction.
So we start with our protagonist, a visionary architect who has recognized the threat.

I’m going to give him a face to make him more attractive. His name is Architect Jerome. He is 52 years old, the father of two children and has 10 employees in his architectural office. Jerome has designed 485 buildings in his career. He is also used to submitting master plans for property developers.

“It’s nothing special for me,” he said when his wife Sabrina asked him about it recently.

What is his new task, which Architect Jerome did not study at university and is not used to incorporating into his designs?

It sounds easy, but the path of urban planning is often clouded with misconceptions and myths about flood protection.

“…It is too expensive, too complicated, perhaps unnecessary…”

This is what we can all hear. And most probably Architect Jerome thinks the same way.

Let’s navigate this maze, debunking myths and illuminating the truth with real-world examples and expert insights.

“The architect shall make all buildings, all investments flood-free.”

But how and when?

  1. How do I make my city, my community, my plot of land flood-free?
  2. What is the right technology?
  3. What does it cost the investor and the end landlord or property buyer?
  4. When can I incorporate it into my plans?
  5. Should I build it into my development plan already?
  6. How can I think about this because we are only talking about grassland?

I will add some questions:

  1. How does the early consideration of flood protection influence the master plan?
  2. How much time would I lose if I did not include early flood protection in the master plan?
  3. How long would the entire project be delayed?
  4. How high would the additional costs be for me and for the investor?
  5. How much prestige would it cost me as an architect if I did not follow the rules of logic?

I often hear architects saying:

“I know flood barriers. We will integrate them later”.

Please take a deep breath!

Part 3: Overcoming Misconceptions

Along the way, architect Jerome encounters myths: “Flood protection is too expensive, too complicated.

And: “We are at an early stage. We don’t need flood protection yet. We can retrofit it later.

What does that mean, “LATER”?

Who will decide when the right time has come?

Who will interrupt the ongoing project “just to think about flood protection now”?

It will never happen if you don’t do it now: Namely NOW!

And the result after heavy rainfall and flooding can be seen on YouTube and on television: everything flooded and damaged.

“If your building was not flooded yesterday and is not flooded today, would you give your life for it to be spared tomorrow?”

Climate change is getting worse and worse and is also hitting places where you wouldn’t expect it.

But we are talking about the safety of people and the security of investments that are made.

Who are these people?

It’s us. All of us.

Private homeowners: They spend their income on their home, which they plan to live in for the rest of their lives and later in retirement. After a flooding disaster in their home, they will also spend all their hard-earned savings to clean up the mess, renovate and buy what was damaged and destroyed.

Investors: They invest their money in a new company building, a hotel, a shopping center, a hospital, an office building, a factory or a warehouse. After a flood disaster in their company, they will spend their hard-earned budget – if they already have income – on clean-up work, renovations, replacements and new purchases.

Public servants: They spend the citizens’ hard-earned tax money on public transport, the healthcare system, education with schools and universities, administration, security and culture.

The homeowner, the investor and the public servant have one thing in common: after their buildings and facilities have been flooded, they have to clean up the mess, renovate and make replacements. This means that all their savings are spent on “fixing” something instead of investing in “something” that will make a better future possible.

Wouldn’t it be better to use the money wisely for the economically important things in life?

For a new car, children’s education, new machines, an improved subway system or airport, a modernized hospital with better-trained doctors and nurses, a more efficient fire department system or simply a pay rise for well-performing employees?

It is possible that they did not want to spend the money on this. The result is that they are now suffering. But how are ordinary homeowners, investors and public servants supposed to know about this special feature of flood protection in architectural design?

Isn’t it more likely that the architect didn’t tell them to build in the flood protection?

“It’s more likely that the architect didn’t tell them to include flood protection in their designs.”

Fortunately, our architect Jerome knows what to do.

Part 4: A Blueprint for Architectural Success

As a first step, the architect Jerome meets with flood experts and then calls in his engineers.

Together, they weave flood protection technologies into the urban fabric.

From green spaces that double as water retention basins to elevated structures and intelligent drainage systems, they integrate innovative solutions that combine functionality and design.

The early inclusion of flood protection not only serves to protect, but also enhances the master plan.

Let’s get practical.

We’ll go through the steps for integrating flood protection into architectural designs.

How do these measures affect the cost per square meter?

How can they be reconciled with the aesthetic vision?

Part 5: The Realization of a Dream

The village that the architect Jerome has to plan is not only a beacon of modern architecture, but also a testament to resilience. That’s why he draws up his master plan with the knowledge of future flood protection.

It’s quite simple.

Just as he uses his imagination to plan roads, buildings, playgrounds, stores, a bus station, a drainage system and a parking lot, he will now use his imagination to incorporate flood protection.

If he knows how to do this, he can design his master plan with fully integrated flood protection from the outset.

That is all. And that’s a lot.

“Not only in flood protection knowledge wins over hesitation.”

His design now embodies not only aesthetics and functionality, but also resilience and safety. 

The most important insight? The early integration of flood protection is not an optional extra, but the basis of sustainable urban development.


An architect shall ask the above mentioned “11 most important questions about flood protection in a master plan that an architect should ask”.

This results in the following “9 findings on flood protection for architects in the master plan phase”:

  1. An architect knows from the outset what type of flood protection technology he has to provide and integrate into his planning for the master plan.
  2. The architect can work quickly and without additional delays, as flood protection-related questions and answers are already included in his considerations.
  3. The investor knows exactly how much additional money he has to provide for his investment in the development.
  4. The investor will know how much to increase the price per square meter for buyers of individual plots.
  5. All three, the architect, the investor and the end users (builders), know that the property is protected against the risk of heavy rain and flooding due to climate change. They are well prepared for the future.
  6. All three can sleep well.
  7. The residents remain safe in the buildings, even with protected cars and a protected garden around them.
  8. The investor has a plot of land that he can sell without costly legal disputes.
  9. The architect will have enhanced his national and international reputation with the best design for a master plan. This is likely to attract more clients who will seek his expertise.

If architects ask themselves the “11 most important questions about flood protection in a master plan that an architect should ask” and follow the “9 findings on flood protection for architects in the master plan phase”, they will be on the right track for a world threatened by climate change.

As we conclude, our Architect’s Jerome vision has transformed. His blueprint now embodies not just aesthetics and functionality but also resilience and safety.

Key takeaway

Integrating flood protection into urban planning isn’t a burden; it’s an opportunity to redefine safety and sustainability in our living spaces.

And as an add-on for the owner of the land: It increases the value of the land, and its buildings.

Write your questions or comments in the comment field. I would be happy to answer.

Here comes my last question for you: How high was the water level when you last experienced flooding?

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