Middelfart, even beautiful when it rains

The small harbour city of Middelfart wants to become Denmark’s most beautiful climateproof city in 2025. The city wants to approach the frequent flooding during cloudbursts in a sustainable way. Instead of expanding the sewage system, Middelfart is looking for a integrated strategy in which rainproof measures are integrated in the urban context and with community involvement. The city invited De Urbanisten among 5 teams to make a masterplan for Climateproof Middelfart.

Our plan for Middelfart can be seen as a framework to make the city rainproof and more attractive at the same time. Main principle in our proposal is the use of natural conditions like topography and water catchment areas. Based on hydraulic modelling we defined three watersheds, following different urban conditions: urban Middelfart, suburban Middelfart and natural Middelfart. Three typical watersheds result in different spatial interventions, strengthening the existing characteristics of places and areas. The watersheds have their water runoff in the water of the Lillebælt, redefining places along the shore and creating a new attractive riverfront. Climateproofing Middelfart creates the opportunity to restructure some of the most prominent public spaces of the city and connect them to a refined network of routes and places. The redefinition of the cities relation with the Lillebælt creates the opportunity to strengthen the identity of Middelfart as an attractive, historic harbour city.

Urban Middelfart consists of the historical structures from uphill to the waterfront, with substantial height differences. We propose to use the characteristic of these streets as small scale but densily built corridors. The water runoff is organised for different cloudburst intensities by a smart profile of subtle height differences. A threshold along the facade prevents water to enter dwellings. This edge can be used as a seating element or as a planter. Downhill at Fishermen Square the water runs off into the Lillebælt in a spectacular way.

In the second watershed – Suburban Middelfart – we propose a network of water delay streets. By introducing bioswales in the streets, the amount of infiltration space increases, with an even more attractive neighborhood as result. In case of a heavy cloudburst the surplus of water is collected at the Belvedere where terraces of gardens guide and filter the water before it enters the Lillebælt. The view over the water from the Belvedere will be an exciting experience.

The third watershed is the Natural Middelfart. The high part of the watershed is a floodable natural basin collecting water from its surroundings. The height differences within this basin create a dynamic landscape that encourages playing, sports and lingering. In the surrounding streets we introduce green water delay and transportation streets. The lower positioned forest area contains a couple of floodable places, that are adventurous play landscapes. The creeks meanders into the waterfront.