Water Sensitive Zomerhof / Agniese district

Water Sensitive Zomerhof / Agniese district is a collective name for several simultaneous projects within the districts Agniesebuurt and Zomerhofkwartier in Rotterdam. They compose a complete strategic vision on How to make the district ‘water sensitive’ and focusses on two concrete themes. On one hand we seek for fruitful combinations of public space redesign of the street network and an overall sewage renewal. On the other hand we seek for successfully combining urban renewal of private domain and climate adaptation of one large housing corporation, within three different urban block typologies that can be found in the district.

A complete circular water system for the district
When examining the large scale of the entire city one can see that water scarcity and abundance are two sides of the same coin. The district has good infiltration conditions and could therefor store water when there is too much and reuse it when there is too little. We define a strategy in which the district holds 100% of its rainwater locally. To do so a series of interventions have to be done that can be executed in time and connect to each other in different ways. First a water sensitive public space framework has to be layed out in which water can be collected, retained and stored locally. Secondly the private domain has to hold -and preferably reuse- a substantial amount of its own water. And thirdly some special case have to be implemented to connect the large underground system to the open water and to the public domain. The water square Benthemplein can be seen as he first showcase in this strategy.

Water sensitive streets
Between 2016 and 2018 the municipality of Rotterdam plans a complete renewal of its sewer system in the district. This is a -not to be missed- opportunity to combine this with a smart water sensitive redesign of its street network. We developed a toolbox of water sensitive measures that can be combined in reprofiling streets, so that it makes a storm water sewage system superfluous. The sewer system then only needs to be used for the transportation of black water from the buildings, meaning it can be smaller and does not have to transport large amounts of rain to a storage location when a peak event occurs. Reprofiling streets into water sensitive streets then equals:

• Storing all rain water locally, including peak events
• Being cost effective and even cheaper than placing new subterranean sewage pipes
• A chance to upgrade and improve public space quality
• Greening the district substantially
• Creating a climate adaptive solution at the same time (cooling the stony urban fabric)

Climate adaptive urban blocks
The water sensitive urban block can combine several financial resources. We look at a minimum scenario of combining real estate maintenance activities with climate adaptation lowering energy bills, up to complete urban redevelopment schemes for densification, new programs and local circular water systems.