CLIMATE-ADAPTIVE AHEAD OF ITS TIME
In the urban development plan of ‘Water neighbourhood’ in Vleuten, as part of the new Leidse Rijn, the theme of ‘water’ was proposed for the implementation of one of its sections. This was long before climate change prompted us to consider water retention. Because only limited surface water is present in this ‘water district’, it was decided to make rainwater also prominently featured. Typically, rainwater is drained as quickly and invisibly as possible. In this plan, however, this drainage is made visible as an element to enliven the street. The open gutters and collection basins fill up during rain and host various gardens with water plants.
The plan consists of 20 homes located along the waterfront and 11 homes situated parallel to a small street behind them. Rainwater flows from the roofs via open ‘waterfalls’ into a gutter between the homes and the street. This gutter directs the water towards the center of the block into a collection basin filled with water plants. From there, the water continues its flow through a mole drain across the street and under the row of waterfront homes, ultimately reaching a second basin that drains into open water. The mole drain acts as a reverse speed bump for vehicular traffic.
The open gutter along the homes traverses private property, thus requiring coordinated maintenance and management by the residents. Partly due to this shared responsibility, a strong social cohesion has developed over the years in the street, with an active homeowners’ association – something not necessarily common in a small new housing development. As a result, residents have grown attached to their neighborhood and are reluctant to leave.