Water as an Element of Urban Design: Drawing Lessons from Four European Case Studies

  • Carlos Smaniotto CostaEmail author
  • Conor Norton
  • Elena Domene
  • Jacqueline Hoyer
  • Joan Marull
  • Outi Salminen
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


One of the most challenging problems that urban areas will face in the future is adaptation to the effects of climate change, particularly with regard to local problems of water management (e.g., flooding caused by heavy rain events, degradation of urban streams, and water scarcity). Sustainable local management of stormwater calls for approaches that connect technical and ecological solutions with urban design aspects and socioeconomic factors. This in turn opens up great opportunities to advance knowledge toward the application of water-sensitive urban design (WSUD), an approach that integrates the water cycle into urban design to simultaneously minimize environmental degradation, improve aesthetic and recreational appeal, and support social cohesion. A comparative study of four case studies across Europe reveals some of the successes and limits of WSUD implemented so far and presents new considerations for future developments. Best practices on integrated management as well as concepts to re-establish natural water cycles in the urban system while ensuring water quality, river health, and sociocultural values are included. In the selected case studies, water takes a structuring role in urban development, which has been designed to serve diverse public functions and maximize environmental quality, urban renovation, resilience to change and sustainable growth.


Water sensitive urban design Decentralized water management Stormwater management Open spaces Urban development Urban design 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Smaniotto Costa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Conor Norton
    • 2
  • Elena Domene
    • 3
  • Jacqueline Hoyer
    • 4
  • Joan Marull
    • 3
  • Outi Salminen
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Urban PlanningUniversidade Lusófona de Humanidades e TecnologiasLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.School of Spatial PlanningDublin Institute of TechnologyDublin 1Ireland
  3. 3.Barcelona Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies (IERMB), Edifici MRAAutonomous University of BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Sustainable Urban and Infrastructure PlanningHafenCity Universität HamburgHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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