Design Study Masterclasses

As a part of the Design Study, ReDesigning Deltas organized four masterclasses, to give participants specialist knowledge input for their challenge. Topics included: the Dutch delta, international deltas, delta governance and delta economy. In the Dutch Delta, Deltares-specialists presented the state of the art regarding adaptation pathways, scalability, transport-corridor(s) and climate proof infrastructure, draught, subsidence, flood risk management, but also on the regional challenges of Limburg, Southwestern Delta, mouth of the Rhine-Meuse rivers and Limburg. The Dutch Delta Masterclass informed the societal challenges, that are the point of departure for sustainable spatial transformation envisioned by the design-teams in the Design Study. The societal challenges are organized in environmental (climate and biodiversity) and socio-economic drivers (housing, energy transition and new economy), that currently manifest as crises. Thus, the masterclass supported the teams with data (in particular on the climate crisis), that sketch the scope of the study in which response and vision to global warming is pursued, the driver that causes changes in the hydrological cycle, such as:

- several meters of sea level rise (3 meters above current level); as high impact, low likelihood scenario

- time horizon 100-120 years; because of the long-term impact of decisions/long term societal effect; considering years in between (-2070-2120)

- other climate extremes, precipitation / pluvial-fluvial flooding: extreme rainfall, high and low river discharge, temperature, drought; and impacts (considering the ‘Waterbom,’ and an extreme event every year in the Netherlands)

 

The four ‘Deltares strategies’ are presented as options on how the Netherlands can transform, but combinations of these strategies or new insights can also be a used.

 

To inspire the teams, the second masterclass international deltas was led by two prominent professionals from very different deltas. Dr. Atiq Rahman​, Executive Director Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), presented the Bangladesh delta, which the river remains dynamic, to bring fertility to the system. Dr. Sam Brody​, Professor of urban planning at Texas A&M (USA) presented a framework for design strategies with 4 flavors: avoidance, resistance, accommodation, and communication. The first strategy (avoidance) is about retreating and relocating people from flood zones; resistance (second) is about holding the water in place. Third, ‘accommodation’ through retention and detention reduces flood consequences with the additional benefit of living with the water. The fourth and final, ‘communication’ is about telling the story of risk, making it part of the daily life of people, officials, scientists, and decision makers.

 

In the masterclass delta governance, the speakers Jos van Alphen and Pieter Bloemen of the Delta Program explained how the Dutch Deltaprogramme aims to protect the Netherlands from high water and flooding, to ensure a sufficient supply of fresh water, and to contribute to rendering the Netherlands climate-proof and water-resilient. They provided insights in Adaptive Delta Management and on the research-program Increased Sea Level Rise. Geert Teisman, professor in Complex Decision Making and Process Management at the Department of Public Administration of Erasmus Universiteit, showed the potential and challenges around governance in the Dutch Delta. Teisman invited Guus van der Hoef of Zuid-Hollands Kustinitiatief, to present this initiative, and to highlight the contemporary challenges. Fabienne Bosschieter from the municipality Zuidplas talked about the integrated area development challenge in the Zuidplaspolder (Integrale Gebiedsopgave Middengebied Zuidplaspolder).

 

The delta economy masterclass was led by urban economist and professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam Frank van Oort. Van Oort explained the costs and benefits of urban deltas (such as agglomeration advantages), direct and indirect effects of flooding, value chains as part of interregional economic relations and urban resilience, the notion of broadly defined welfare, and studies that identify the value of density, nature, accessibility, spatial quality and water. Particularly inspiring for the case-studies was a diagram that attempts to weigh different elements of broad welfare in different flood protection alternatives such as retreat and protect.

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About

Unsustainable growth (urbanization) and shifting time horizons in delta management increase the urgency of the environmental crisis in deltas. Besides, an opportunity for a ‘reset’ arises because of the near sell-by date current infrastructure systems (mature deltas) and the vast investments planned in the coming decades (emerging deltas). It is essential to identify and understand pathways to a sustainable and inclusive delta in which transformations are likely necessary. Unfortunately, the current practice of ‘delta-management’ falls short, as it lacks integration and design. Collective inter-disciplinary knowledge production is required to develop these (transformation) pathways, and the success of collective knowledge production does require a design-based approach, in which different perspectives are recognized and joint new perspectives are developed. Therefore, we initiated an ambitious, inter-disciplinary and multi-annual project which places design and design-based research at the heart to deliver these outcomes. We propose to use the Delft Approach as a basis on which to build in the process of Redesigning Deltas, in which finding consensus (joint fact finding), making visions, and designing their material, ecological and temporal manifestation in space (design-thinking) help to explore, envision, and project new futures, to evoke and enable change.

The main goal of this project is to build the knowledge and collective commitment in the delta community* to support the shift in paradigm where water (security & safety) management is integrated into planning and design and vice versa in which the role of design and design-based research is revisited and strengthened.
The project will evoke systemic change on two levels:
1. Strategy: transformability (persistence – fragments vs. permanence – main structure)
2. Tactics: flexibility (ability to respond, contingency), continuous learning, adaptability, and innovation (ability to change) and will deliver as concrete outputs pathways to sustainable deltas (national and international context).