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Waterplein Benthemplein Reveals the Secret of Versatile Water Squares

Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein, by De Urbanisten, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Rotterdam is a city that literally swims in abundance – the abundance of water. Unlike many other cities worldwide where scarcity of water is a huge problem, densely populated Rotterdam is regularly confronted with great quantities of water causing floods in many parts of the town. For years, experts were unable to come up with sustainable solutions. However, the planning bureau De Urbanisten finally put an innovative Watersquare-concept into practice; Waterplein Benthemplein was born but is this really a place that makes a virtue out of too much water? How does a so-called Water square work? WATCH: Animated video of the Watersquare Benthemplein, by studio analoog

Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein is a square that functions as an attractive meeting place for city residents. The square features three concrete basins of different depth which are used for different leisure activities in dry weather. However, during heavy rainfalls those basins are temporarily submerged in order to relieve Rotterdam’s sewage system. The water of the surrounding surfaces and rooftops are collected in the basins forming three small lakes in the middle of the square. [contextly_sidebar id=”mlUepoIKimBO8c7Pg64przuybo9Ptz2G”] At the time the city’s canal system has enough capacity to allow the run off to the nearest open water again; the stored water slowly disappears, to make room for the various users once more. Additionally this Watersquare – concept also improves the quality of open water in urban environments as it prevents unpurified water from running directly into the River Maas. Can flood control be visually appealing too? The three concrete basins of Benthemplein are painted in various shades of blue in a pattern vaguely resembling the isobars on weather maps. Open stainless-steel zigzag gutters and slim light strips are integrated into the ground of the square. They transport the water, as well as function as skater bars.

Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

How the Filling Mechanism Works The deepest basin features an interesting filling mechanism. The water submerges the basin dramatically through a waterfall in the wall. In addition, the rhythm of waterfalls is being directed in relation to the amount of water falling from the sky.
Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Different Weather, Different Functions Each basin has a different function in dry weather; one of them features a little island which can serve as a stage or just as a place to sit and enjoy the rare hours of sunshine. Another one is made for everybody on wheels and whoever wants to watch them doing their tricks.
Waterplein Benthemplein.

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Planting on the Site The deepest basin is a true sports pit for playing football, volleyball and basketball. It is set up like a grand theatre to sit, see and be seen. On each entrance, De Urbanisten created more intimate places to sit and linger too. The planting scheme emphasizes the beautiful treeline that already existed. Therefore, the planners introduced grasses and wildflowers surrounding the trees framed by a concrete border at seating height to offer many informal places to relax there too.
Waterplein Benthemplein.

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Can this water square be the solution for a worldwide problem? Waterplein Benthemplein is the first large scale square that helps Rotterdam cope with the increasing water masses. It is used as conventional play- and sports areas in good weather, but when it comes to heavy rainfalls it serves as an unconventional catch basin for surface water. Designing Multi-Layered Functional Cities With the Benthemplein Watersquare De Urbanisten followed the idea of no longer hiding the expensive rainwater storage underground. Instead, they shared the vision of Watersquare that doubles as a design element, as well as becoming part of the public space in all weathers. Cities in Brazil, Denmark and China already showed great interest in the Waterplein concept which suggests the abundant success of the project.
Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Benthemplein square multiplied its importance for the city Rotterdam has a whole lot of leftover urban public space in need of an upgrade. Benthemplein used to be such a space – a square close to the Central Station, hidden between large-scale school buildings and a church. De Urbanisten chose Benthemplein for the very first realisation of their Watersquare because it simply was in desperate need of a makeover.
Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

One of the Best Solutions in Existence The unique concept and simple design of Waterplein Benthemplein may not be the only way to handle big quantities of rainwater in cities, but it is one of the most future oriented-leading ideas applicable to squares with a high utilisation pressure, as well as an innovative solution for the temporary storage of rainwater excess. Benthemplein by De Urbanisten gives Rotterdam the urgently needed added value in water management. Can you invent a better solution?
Waterplein Benthemplein

Waterplein Benthemplein. Photo courtesy of De Urbanisten

Full Project Credits for Waterplein Benthemplein

Project: Waterplein Benthemplein – The Watersquare of Rotterdam Location: Rotterdam (north of centre), the Netherlands Client: Rotterdam Climate Initiative, City of Rotterdam supported by the Waterboard Schieland & Krimpenerwaard Authors: DE URBANISTEN Project Architect: Florian Boer Designers: Roberto Schumacher, Jens Jorritsma, Eduardo Marín, Tim Peeters, Dirk van Peijpe Collaborators: City of Rotterdam: Engineering Bureau Project Management: City of Rotterdam: Project Management Bureau Construction Management: City of Rotterdam: Engineering Bureau Producing Firms: Wallaard, coordinating construction firm Wallaard, concrete works of the basins Wallaard, underground water management infrastructure ACO, construction stainless steel gutters and ledlights Topcourts, coloring of the basins Anouk Vogel, artwork/baptistery Municipal nursery, planting and additional trees Date of Project: Design: 2011-2012 Date of Construction: 2012- 2013 (finished on December 4th, 2013) Budget: 4 million euros including Larger underground infrastructures (pipes and water pumps) engineering, tendering and communication budgets Surface area: total: 9.500 m2 (including street and parking) effective square: 5.500 m2 offering 1.800 m3 temporal water storage Photographers: All illustrations by DE URBANISTEN. Photos by Jeroen Musch, Ossip van Duivenbode, pallesh+azarfane and De Urbanisten Show on Google Maps

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