Integrating Blue-Green and Social Factors

Integrating Blue-Green and Social Factors


Prof. Herbert Dreiseitl,Director, Rambøll Liveable Cities Labis an urban designer,landscape architect and an expert in creating Liveable Cities. His research laboratory is dedicated to support cities in envisioning their future development.

Within the Liveable Cities Lab (LCL), Herbert explores the potentials and conditions for Liveable Cities of the future.A trademark of his work is the innovative use of water to solve urban environmental challenges, connecting technology with aesthetics and encouraging people to take ownership for places.


Approach towards a Blue-Green city infrastructure

Infrastructures are the physical backbone of urban functionality. Beside mobility and resources like water supply, energy, food and waste management it is the urban environment like air quality, temperature balance and outdoor comfort that creates the standard of living.But there is also a social and cultural component that drives people to move more and more to cities.

Blue-Green Infrastructures are still not properly understood in their true function and value for the city andits inhabitants as backbone for liveability, and as dynamic depository resource to balance and stabilize life processes. But it is the character of these flexible and ever changing elements.

We cannot as easily measure, count and quantify the values of the Blue-Green components in the urban structure as we can on hard build forms of engineered infrastructure, of buildings and real estate development.

Holistic attitudes for Blue-Green Infrastructures are not only a nice addition to create more liveability but will become a necessity as survival strategy for cities.Especially with the challenges of climate change, cities will be hit enormously and we can see this already happening today.In our research we found strong arguments of value building but we have to measure with different forms of capitals.

Many cities around the world go for more Blue-Green.Some of the progressive cities are Copenhagen with its Cloudburst project in reaction to the enormous flooding’s, likewise New York City, Portland Oregon and Chicago in America. Also Singapore is on the forefront of new integrated solutions for Blue-Greenin dense urban environment.

Tanner-Springs-Park-Portland, USA

Importance of social factors in this context

One of the benefits is the social and human capital that profits enormously by Blue-Green Infrastructures.We know today that green in cities is not only nice to have but essential for human health. With the Biophilic effect, green can contribute for psychological health like avoiding depressions, burnout and other dysfunctions.Even the immune system is influenced as studies in Singapore hospitals show.For social connectivity and peoples’ wellbeing the public realm with vegetation and water is essential and makes a city liveable.In several of your projects Green Roofs are part of the overall concept.

The most important functions of the green technology

Green Roofs are not only an important part of the treatment train for sustainable rainwater management but contribute so much for the urban climate. They balance the weather extremes and stabilize the temperature and humidity just to mention some points on this.

We include Green Roofs also for reasons like biodiversity and habitat by creating an Eldorado for birds,insects and plant variety and we know the bee honey in cities is often better than in rural areas.On top of all this it looks attractive and has this human psychological health aspect that we think is getting increasingly important.

The key to boost the development of water sensitive urban design

The challenge is not the technology but their implementation within the urban fabric because the stage of Blue-Green Infrastructures is foremost in the public domain.We all can see and experience those spaces are getting more and more tightly and there is a growing competition about functions, programs and occupations.Instead of a competition where the loudest and most brutal voices but not necessarily the most important elements win, better ways of sharing and multifunctional structures need to be developed.

I would wish that municipalities would give betterframe-conditions and the private sector would have a longer perspective in seeing their benefits.Liveability is basic for healthy cities; therefore we need courage, perspectives and hope.

Interviewer: Wolfgang Ansel, Director of International Green Roof Association (IGRA)

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