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MVRDV creates a "Sea Level Rise Catalogue" to adapt waterfront buildings against rising sea levels

Canada Architecture News - Nov 17, 2022 - 14:25   3723 views

MVRDV creates a

MVRDV, as part of a team named North Creek Collective, has created a "Sea Level Rise Catalogue", introducing a series of proposals for the City of Vancouver, aiming to adapt waterfront buildings, landscape and infrastructure to accommodate to rising sea levels.

The catalogue, addressing to the problems of sea level rises in multiple cities across the world from Miami to Manila, shows how cities can adapt to climate change by adapting its existing infrastructure and building typologies. 

Developed in response to the Sea2City Design Challenge, the catalogue was meant to investigate the urban future of False Creek, a body of water in the heart of Vancouver, Canada

MVRDV creates a

In between bridges, current situation

In the end, MVRDV's project resulted in an extensive catalogue of options, including various kinds of adaptive buildings. "With it, the makers aim to inspire other coastal cities around the world to undertake immediate action to adapt to climate change," said MVRDV in its press release. 

Sea level rise turns into a global challenge around the world in many cities. Since many thriving cities are located on the waterside, and so a climate-change-induced rise in sea level, combined with increases in storm surges, droughts, and land subsidence, this threatens cities globally. 

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In between bridges, year 2100

According to MVRDV, typical developments to these challenges were including resisting the water with higher flood barriers and dikes.

"However, such approaches often worsen flooding in cities, limiting the natural ability of the foreshore to absorb wave energy, storm surge and run-off," said the studio. 

"What if cities learned to work with water, rather than against it?," asked the firm.

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Coopers' Park, current situation

"Making Vancouver a more resilient and inclusive city"

Acting as a toolbox, MVRDV's proposals aim to make Vancouver a more resilient and inclusive city in the future.  

As part of a team named the North Creek Collective, the firm has created a catalogue of possible solutions for adapting waterfront buildings and infrastructure to accommodate and absorb encroaching water. 

"This Sea Level Rise Catalogue supplements their entry to the City of Vancouver’s Sea2City Design Challenge, which invited teams to investigate the urban future of False Creek, a body of water in the heart of Vancouver that is home to a number of the city’s major attractions," the firm continued. 

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Coopers' Park, year 2040

"In tackling the next century of False Creek’s development, we looked closely at the context of Vancouver – considering everything from the types of building already found there, to the community values of the city and local First Nations, such as Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh, for whom this is an important site," said MVRDV founding partner Nathalie de Vries. 

"With our approach, we offer ideas that can also be adapted to new contexts elsewhere; with the Sea Level Rise Catalogue, Vancouver can become a global leader, showing other cities a way into the future." 

"Sea level rise is a challenge that will impact cities globally, from Miami to Manila," she added.

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Coopers' Park, year 2100

The Sea Level Rise Catalogue provides various examples for both adapting existing buildings and its surroundings, developing new structures with sea level rise in mind. 

The catalogue includes vertical extensions of flood-adaptive townhouses with community terraces, mid-rises stripped back to their structural skeletons to accommodate flexible public programmes, and high-rises serving as mobility hubs to connect land- and water-based transport. 

In addition, there are also ideas for new constructions - including floating habitat islands, adaptive houses, offices, sports facilities, and cultural spaces.

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, cover

Mixed-use high-rises and small neighbourhoods on stilts, an amphibious restaurant that rises and falls in response to the tide, and inland developments that bolster the city’s flood resilience by incorporating permeable ground coverings, community spaces, and rainwater buffers are among program elements considered within this toolbox. 

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue

"The catalogue highlights six fundamental principles"

The catalogue highlights six fundamental principles that cities should consider in new designs, both when adapting existing structures and constructing new ones. 

For example, it includes from finding new, flood-proof uses for underground structures, to the development of raised walkways, these principles are designed to ensure that buildings and infrastructure can coexist with water – whether that involves accommodating higher tides on a daily basis, or being prepared for more frequent storm surges.

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, adaptive cluster

As the firm stated, "crucially, each idea is accompanied by an explanation of potential “win-wins”. Each proposal aims to bring positive impact on the design to make the city more equitable, sustainable, and liveable, in addition to their ability to address sea level rise. 

"From incorporating renewable energy sources, to increasing housing provision, and from adding public spaces to improving biodiversity, each proposal offers something in addition to its relationship to the water that can help to ensure widespread support among various stakeholders," the firm added.

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, new buildings

MVRDV believes that "when combined, the long-term visions created by the North Creek Collective for False Creek and the Sea Level Rise Catalogue could serve not only to reimagine Vancouver’s relationship to its waterfront", this toolbox and strategy can be "a guiding light to coastal cities all over the world", showing how to move towards an adaptive, resilient, sustainable future.

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, high-rise community garden

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, mid-rise skeleton

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, marina community

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, habitat

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, mid-rise frame

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, win wins

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Sea Level Rise Catalogue, zones

MVRDV creates a

Sea Level Rise Catalogue, zones

MVRDV developed the Sea Level Rise Catalogue as part of team MVRDV + PWL, which also included PWL Partnership Landscape Architects, Deltares, and Modern Formline Design, with support from WestMar Advisors, G.L. Williams & Associates, Happy City, Modus, and Goudappel.

Project facts

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Client: City of Vancouver

Year: 2022

Programme: Urban vision

Architect: MVRDV

Principal in charge: Nathalie de Vries 

Partner: Enno Zuidema

Design team: Kristina Knauf, Stijn Lanters, Başak Günalp, Antonio Luca Coco, Stefania Trozzi, Angelo La Delfa


Contractor: City of Vancouver

Landscape engineer: PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc., Vancouver, Canada 

Environmental advisor: Deltares, Delft, Netherlands

Cultural advisor: Modern Formline Design, Vancouver, Canada

Advisory groups: Westmar Advisors, Modus, Goudappel, The Happy City

Top image: In Between Bridges, year 2040.

All images © MVRDV.

> via MVRDV 

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