Accepting that we are living in a real-life Day After Tomorrow doesn't mean that we can't have some fun with it. In the face of climate change and increasing flooding concerns in Denmark, the Roskilde sewage department collaborated with skate-obsessed architecture firm Nordarch to introduce a new urban drainage system that would also activate the space socially. Located in the new creative district of Musicon, this is just one of a series of interventions in the area that question conventional urban development.
The resulting structure can accommodate for massive floods (of the size that statistically only happens every 10 years) by funneling water through a long open channel that flows into three consecutive basins. In dry conditions, the path traced for water becomes a “celebration of human motion” and creates obstacles for skaters who, as the architect in charge of the project, Søren Nordal Enevoldsen, claims, already "feel at home in ditches and drainage systems." The wheel-less are also presented with an onslaught of options, including jogging paths, parkour equipment, hammocks, trampolines, barbecues areas, and a performance space. See more images after the !
This park comes as part of a larger Danish initiative dealing with the separation of wastewater and stormwater. Typically, when these two systems were combined, heavy rainfall would fill the pipes beyond capacity and cause sewage to be discharged into waterways. Now, after reworking large parts of the infrastructure, cities like Copenhagen can once again boast about having swimmable city rivers (with fun architectural projects to celebrate). However, places like New York are slow to follow, despite the presence of grassroots measures, and promises on Bloomberg's part to improve stormwater management as part of his PlaNYC initiative. A hit like Sandy released 11 billion gallons of sewage into the East River, yet we are still comfortable with kayaking along the waterfront.
Fighting this attitude of denial, Rabalder Park stands as part of a trend that challenges the idea of waterproofing our cities by keeping water out, instead looking to brace our urban environments to accept water. Another big player in this movement is the Netherlands, where as a result of 60% of inhabitants living below sea level, a number of dual-purpose measures dealing with water have been introduced. In addition to their floating communities and rain-absorbing rooftop gardens, rain retention basins have been incorporated into other programs such as parking garages (with a capacity of 10,000 m3) and a number of "water plazas" (floodable playgrounds).
Perhaps most important though, the skatepark would give the adventurous a perfect excuse to try this amphibious monster out.