Urban Developments

The urban functions in the province of Groningen are under threat of floods. Therefore, economic values need to be protected. Existing artificial hills - the so-called wierden - have historically a higher altitude, which makes them easy to protect against water. Eventual new living areas in the Groningen Highland, but also around the city of Groningen should be build on a new variant of the old wierden of other innovative water proof techniques must be used. The safest way to house the people in the province is to choose locations for concentrated living areas at higher altitudes in the landscape. Existing lower areas with a high historic value, like the old villages of Appingedam, Oudeschans or Bourtange. These villages may be transferred into new islands in the landscape, which will be surrounded by water from time to time. A firm bastion needs to protect these valuable villages. Another development in the province of Groningen is that several municipalities shrink in population. If the developments of flood risk and shrinking population are combined, the idea may be raised to concentrate the shrinkage in those villages, which are most under threat of floods. If this strategy is accepted, there is half a century time for people to move to new houses at higher locations in the landscape: on new wierden, in the higher altitudes of the peat colonies, in Westerwolde and on the Drenthe plateau. The highest part of the province, the uttermost piece of the Hondsrug in the middle of the city of Groningen densities may be risen tremendously. A new high-rise zone can be developed here, where a new typology of dwellings can be developed, which are suitable not only for living but where working, recreation and shopping can be integrated in the buildings also. The people, who do not want to live in high-rise buildings, the opportunity needs to be created to live - may be more expensive - in low densities spread out over the peat colonies. If the spatial lay out in the province is made like this a natural order is created, fully based on the natural characteristics of the landscape, which allows people to live and work at the - from a risk point of view - safest locations. Added advantages are that the infrastructure in such a lay out can be kept minimal: only short distances need to be bridged and the basis for public transport is increasing. In the lower lying outskirts of Groningen the population will decrease. And if the sea level rises accelerated, is a depopulation program desirable in order to remove people from the most risky places? If people want to live in dangerous areas, they should do so on artificial hills or with innovative building techniques and if people want to live spread out in low densities in scarce safe areas, the price will be higher (Fig. 2.20).

A new Groningen emerges, where nature, landscape and recreation is dominant in the outskirts and on the islands and where the space for working and living

efficient, multifunctional and in high densities takes place at higher altitudes. This new Groningen is capable of moving along with climate change. Not tomorrow, but ocver a period of decennia, step by step.

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