Abstract




AFTER VINEX: TO A NEW DUTCH LANDWATERSCAPE


A gradual increase in urban density and size has created conditions in which the Dutch landscape can no longer appropriately respond to changing weather patterns. Thanks to the inclusion of ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ to the everyday lexicon, much is being done internationally to combat shifts in global weather patterns. Action is also needed at the urban and architectural levels to mediate changes in the meso- and micro-climates. Interventions at this scale can help prevent the amassing of runoff during periods of high rainfall, reduce the need for groundwater extraction, and provide positive space for both community and nature.

The incorporation of nature as design informant will produce a built landscape in place of the traditional urban-nature split. Green spaces provide a permeable surface, can be used for human recreation or isolated for natural processes, and can be incorporated architecturally as green roofs, courtyards, or gardens, for example. Similarly, on the urban scale, green spaces can be used for drainage and water treatment in streetscapes, and as a buffer for fluctuating water levels, bringing functional as well as aesthetic benefit. Interventions of this type increase natural seepage back into groundwater reservoirs, reintroduce nature (and natural processes) to the core of our habitat, and could provide an alternative source of potable water. Retro-fitting costs have been a major hindrance in the wide scale adoption of such sustainable measures in existing urban areas. Although regulations prevent wide-scale adoption of rainwater- and wastewater-treatment for drinking, only a small percentage of household water use requires potable water; therefore, as the first development on the IJmeer IJlands, After Vinex provides an important opportunity to investigate the feasibility of water collection, treatment and reuse.


Research Essay



4367133351_5280f943ca_o.jpg
Schildmeer - January 05 2009. Jurjen Veerman, 2009


AFTER VINEX:
TO A NEW DUTCH LANDWATERSCAPE



INTRODUCTION

A gradual increase in urban density and size has created conditions in which the Dutch landscape can no longer appropriately respond to changing weather patterns. Thanks to the inclusion of ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ to the everyday lexicon, much is being done internationally to combat shifts in global weather patterns. Action is also needed at the urban and architectural levels to mediate changes in the meso- and micro-climates. Interventions at this scale can help prevent the amassing of runoff during periods of high rainfall, reduce the need for groundwater extraction, and provide positive space for both community and nature.

The incorporation of nature as design informant will produce a built landscape in place of the traditional urban-nature split. Green spaces provide a permeable surface, can be used for human recreation or isolated for natural processes, and can be incorporated architecturally as green roofs, courtyards, or gardens, for example. Similarly, on the urban scale, green spaces can be used for drainage and water treatment in streetscapes, and as a buffer for fluctuating water levels, bringing functional as well as aesthetic benefit. Interventions of this type increase natural seepage back into groundwater reservoirs, reintroduce nature (and natural processes) to the core of our habitat, and could provide an alternative source of potable water. Retro-fitting costs have been a major hindrance in the wide scale adoption of such sustainable measures in existing urban areas. Although regulations prevent wide-scale adoption of rainwater- and wastewater-treatment for drinking, only a small percentage of household water use requires potable water; therefore, as the first development on the IJmeer IJlands, After Vinex provides an important opportunity to investigate the feasibility of water collection, treatment and reuse.


BACKGROUND

Picture_30.png
Figure 1: Soils and coastline around AD 800, compared to present [1]



Since man first arrived in the Netherlands, his presence has impacted the physical landscape. As Figure 1 shows, the predominant soil types in the Netherlands are clay or peat, both highly compressible soil types. Early peat farming and agricultural activities caused damage to the soil, reduced hydration and led to subsidence.[2] Rising sea levels and a series of storms further inflamed the situation. Combined, the continued subsidence and higher tides have caused the Dutch coastline to constantly evolve and forced the Dutch people to develop and redevelop technologies in order to protect their valuable agricultural land, and later reclaim some of it back from the sea. Appendix I provides an overview of the changing landscape from 5000 BC until today; of note is the emergence of an internal body of water, which grew into the North Sea before being harnessed, and is once more termed a lake, courtesy of the Afsuiltdijk.

One-third of the land in the Netherlands now lies below sea level; without interventions such as dunes, dikes, and pumps, 65 per cent of the country would be under water at high tide.[3] Constant protection is required to guard not only valuable agricultural pastures; urban fabric has now spread across the low-lying areas, a cause of unprecedented loss should the dikes be breached. Any further subsidence places greater pressure on these defense systems. With global warming an ever-present reality rainfall will be less predictable, potentially causing flash floods and prolonged periods with no rainfall. Without sufficient water stores, drier weather will exacerbate subsidence – the three major causes of subsidence in the Netherlands were soil oxidation, shrinkage, and consolidation. Whereas oxidation was the main cause historically, due to large-scale peat drainage, shrinkage and consolidation are now predominant. Shrinkage is ‘a result of capillary stress during the drying of a soil,’ and consolidation is a form of compression, made possible by lower groundwater levels.[4]


DOMESTIC WATER USE

In the Netherlands all domestic water supply must be high-quality potable water. Although having one standard quality allows simpler supply infrastructure, it leads to high-quality water being used when not required, such as to flush a toilet; the water quality required to flush a toilet is far lower than that needed to cook and drink. Figure 2 below shows a variety of household water uses, and their corresponding quality requirement. Presently the highest quality water is used for all tasks; however, this is not the most efficient model.


Figure 2: Various domestic water uses each requiring different water qualities [5]


In England and Wales about three per cent of domestic water use is for potable purposes, which equates to roughly 10 litres per household.[6] Considering the stains on centralised water supplies during peak summer periods, a more appropriate model must be adopted.

Use
%
Use
%
Toilet
35
Washbasin
8
Kitchen sink
15
Outside use
6
Bath
15
Shower
5
Washing machine
12
Dishwasher
4
Table 1: Typical domestic water use in England and Wales [7]

Another consequence of centralised water supplies is the increased distance water must be transported for treatment and subsequent distribution. Although the logistics chain is shorter in the Netherlands than in the United Kingdom, the limitations of infrastructure remain. Ageing water mains begin to deteriorate and leak, considerably. In England and Wales approximately 25 per cent of treated water was being lost annually due to leakages in the distribution network. [8] Detecting leakages is therefore a necessary mode of water conservation. It is, however, both labour intensive and costly.


RAINWATER COLLECTION

Arguably the most effective means to conserve water, rainwater collection and storage is also the most local. This water can immediately be cycled back into the home without treatment to wash clothes, flush toilets, or water the garden. Studies in the United Kingdom and Canada have both estimated that 45-50 per cent of domestic water uses could utilise rainwater. [9]
The immediacy of localised rainwater storage increases local water security, something challenged by changing weather patterns. This setup also acts to minimise amassing of stormwater during periods of high rainfall as each household collects a percentage, and reduces flow-ons into the urban network. Increasing supply from locally collected sources will reduce demand on central infrastructure, and reduce leakage losses therein. [10]


WASTEWATER REUSE

As shown, domestic tasks do not all require high-quality potable water. Looking at actual consumption against domestic water use, only six per cent of potable water is consumed, through drinking or cooking, leaving 94 per cent to be used where lower quality water would suffice. These tasks each reduce the water quality further, as can be seen in Figure 2 and Figure 3. Collection and storage of these waters brings benefit as with higher quality rainwater collection. The water is not ‘ruined’, rather it has progressed further down the quality chain and the output of one process becomes the inflow for another. As the cascading reuse model illustrates, waters from all stages of the chain may still be reused. Finally, very low-quality water requiring treatment is produced and is discharged from the household. [11]


Figure 3: Cascading and water quality upgrading model [12]


With the cascading model of reuse, the one flow can be reused across many purposes. Continual degradation of water quality follows, and so activities must be ordered according to a hierarchy, as described by Sirkin et al. - the highest-quality resources are first used by the most demanding activities, then progress to less demanding processes and tasks. [13] Recycling of this kind could save up to 50 per cent of supplies during periods of high demand in the summer. [14]


CONCLUSION

The present water supply chain in the Netherlands is no longer simple nor efficient, and must be replaced. Households accepting a 100 per cent potable water supply freely waste the resource. Up to 30 per cent is used to flush toilets alone, and in the summer months large quantities of potable water is spread across gardens – where rainwater or recycled lower-quality water would suffice. Future water supplies are no longer guaranteed by historical records as global warming alters climate patterns. Localised collection and storage will increase local water security and also reduce run-off into centralised wastewater treatment facilities. Reuse on a local scale provides a constant supply of water, reducing demand on centralised resources, and models such as the cascading one discussed transfer water of sufficient quality from activity to activity.

Outside the household, treated wastewater can also be cycled back for tasks only requiring a lower quality of water. In addition to producing further demand for high-quality water, continued population growth will also increase subsequent sewerage.[15] Although not addressed here, this quality of output can be treated semi-locally through vertical- or horizontal-flow beds and upgraded to a higher quality, and is able to be cycled back into the reuse loop.

Adopting a combination of these techniques in the After Vinex development will provide a clear example of sustainable water-based design. Rainwater collection and cycling of wastewater will reduce demand on centralised supplies and minimise further subsidence. Architectural and urban catchment features encourage a new form of identity, and a closer relationship to water. It is hoped this identity will become associated with the IJlands, and lead to greater sustainability in future expansions.



[1] Robert J. Hoeksema. 2007, p.S115
[2] A.M. Lambert. 1985
[3] Robert J. Hoeksema. 2007, p.S113
[4] ibid., p.S114[5] Claudia Aguldelo, Adriaan Mels and Ronald Rovers. 2009, p.2
[6] N.F. Gray. 2008. p.7
[7] ibid., p.5
[8] ibid., p.7
[9] ibid., p.30
[10] N.F. Gray. 2008. p.30
[11] Claudia Aguldelo, Adriaan Mels and Ronald Rovers. 2009, p.2
[12] ibid., p.3
[13] Sirkin, T., and Houten, M. 1994
[14] N.F. Gray. 2008. p.30
[15] Jimenez, B. and Asano, T. 2008








Reference projects


These I want to do properly, so will redo over the weekend & upload
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Sustainable technologies/concepts



One

One

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Reference texts



An introduction to the Dutch landscape

- Landscape: 9 + 1 Young Dutch Landscape Architects
B. Nolan (ed.). 1999 (English edition). Rotterdam: NAI Publishers.
Perhaps an introductory text into the role of landscape design in Dutch history and its relevance today. Published after an exhibition of the same name, Landscape incorporates some brief essays and a series of project proposals.

- The Making of Dutch Towns
G.L. Burke. 1956. London: Cleaver-Hume Press Ltd.
Expectedly, this focuses on the historical pattern of town formation in the Netherlands. Some water management considerations are addressed, primarily due to the to the relationship between Dutch civilisation and water. This is an historical overview, and as such doesn’t address the new town formations of the 20th Century.

- The Making of the Dutch Landscape
A.M. Lambert. 1985 (2nd edition). London: Academic Press.
A really useful text, explaining everything from the historical land formation, to the term ‘Dutch’. Outlines the Dutch struggle against water, alongside the changing social and economic environment. Despite primarily being a text resource, images, maps and diagrams are also plentiful.

- Man-made Lowlands
G.P. van de Ven (ed.). 1996 (3rd edition). Utrecht: Stichting Matrijs.
A great encyclopaedia of sorts detailing the Dutch physical condition and water management policies and techniques from 800 AD onwards. Discusses the series of challenges faced by the Dutch people, and explains the technological developments in both text and graphics.

- Sea of Land
W. Reh, C. Steenbergen and D. Aten. 2007 (English version). Utrecht: Stichting Matrijs.
Another encyclopaedia-styled book. Sea of Land looks at polder formation and its impact on city form. Also with sufficient graphic and text explanation, the total acts as an ‘experimental atlas’ of Dutch landscape architecture, as shaped by the necessity to actively manage water.

Case studies: sustainable water-based design

- Waterscapes: Planning, Building and Designing with Water
H. Dreiseitl, D. Grau, and K.H.C. Ludwig (eds.). 2001. Berlin: Birkhäuser.
Waterscapes looks at the role of water in design, from urban systems, to architectural features and functional uses, such as treatment of wastewater. All addressed through projects, I find this an extremely relevant and well-based text.

- Recent Waterscapes: Planning, Building and Designing with Water
H. Dreiseitl, D. Grau, (eds.). 2009. Berlin: Birkhäuser.
Recent Waterscapes continues the focus of Waterscapes (see also New Waterscapes) through the introduction of new case studies. Not all have been replaced, with some exemplary projects retained in the newer editions.

- Ontwerpen met regenwater
Stichting RIONED. 2003. Ede: Stichting RIONED.
In line with the Waterscapes series, Ontwerpen met regenwater profiles 20 projects, all from within the Netherlands. They range from functional large-scale flood plains and urban drainage networks to small-scale primarily aesthetic urban installations. The common link is they are all fed only by rainwater.

- Water in zicht
Online resource: opMAAT, last accessed 23/03/2010:
<http://www.water-in-zicht.nl/>
A well-constructed resource for water-based design. 29 projects from across Europe (and one from the United States) are presented. Each is innovative in its integration of technology and design in response to our changing climate. Most impressively, links and contact details to aid in sourcing further information are provided alongside well-researched summaries of each project. Great starting point for any water-based sustainability research.

Philosophical / theoretical

- City of Flows: Modernity, Nature and the City
M. Kaika. 2005. London: Routledge.
Despite its references to statistics and fact, this is predominantly a philosophical publication, one addressing the ideological and political issues surrounding our relationship to and with nature. An interesting comparison of our changing attitudes comprises the latter chapters, with Athens used as point of investigation.

- The Nature of Landscape: A Personal Quest
H. Lorzing. 2001. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.
As the title states, this is a personal investigation into what is ‘landscape’. Drawing primarily from European examples, but discussing notions from across the globe, The Nature of Landscape combines analyses of historical views and theories with a more personal interpretation of ‘landscape’. Thought-provoking; an interesting dialogue.

Technical

- Drinking Water Quality (Second Edition)
N.F. Gray. 2008. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This text addresses a range of issues associated with the provision of drinking water. From the operational and logistical functioning of water supply businesses to sources and quality frameworks, primarily in the United Kingdom (international research is quoted throughout).

- Issues in Potable Reuse
D. Dobbs (ed.). 1998. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
Commissioned by the National Research Council (NRC), this publication follows on from research initially published in 1982. Technically it investigates toxicology and health risks of recycling water for drinking purposes. No solid conclusion is presented in regards to one method of potable water extraction, or whether this is appropriate in general, but rather frameworks are suggested for water management and government bodies to continually monitor water quality.

- Lake and Reservoir Management
S.E. Jørgensen, H. Löffler, W. Rast and M. Straskraba. 2005. Elsevier: Amsterdam.
Of interest due to its section on improving water quality, this text also provides a global overview of lake and reservoir systems, and impacting factors on water quality therein. It is well detailed in this area and provides some integrated natural / technical solutions for discussion.

- Reservoir Sedimentation Handbook
G.L. Morris and J. Fan. 1998. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Sedimentation is truly a global phenomenon and in the case of water catchment reservoirs, where natural flows have been interrupted, it can become problematic. Primarily focussed on engineering solutions (which often address symptoms rather than causes), the handbook also introduces sustainable responses, outlining how far-reaching and costly they can be. The process of flushing seemed one of the most effective treatments (rather than preventative measures), however without height differentiation this would not be as effective in the Netherlands.

- Water Resources Management
K. Nageswara Rao (ed.). 2006. New Delhi: New Century Publications.
Presenting from an Indian perspective, where water scarcity and access to potable water are major state challenges, Water Resources Management is a collection of short essays pertaining to water management. In addition to technical presentations, some more social papers are included, addressing public participation and the role of women entrepreneurs in resolving these challenges.

- Waterscapes: Using Plant Systems to Treat Wastewater
H. Izembart and B. Le Boudec. 2003 (Spanish/English version). Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili.
Similar to the other ‘Waterscapes’ texts, Waterscapes presents analyses of many case study projects. Rather than prescribe the design of wastewater treatment facilities, Waterscapes profiles wastewater solutions from across the globe ranging in size, constitution and purpose. All information is well presented for a layperson, leading to a solid understanding of relatively technical processes. Finishing with projects depicting ‘new forms of identity’ this is undoubtedly a relevant and valuable text.