Facing up to Rising Sea Levels

Snug Projects have recently been working with Civil Engineering and Architecture students at the University of Southampton on developing proposals for that respond to the challenge of urban flooding. The coat line of Britain faces significant challenges from rising sea levels. This is particularly challenging in urban areas. This project required students to explore the challenges the city of Southampton faces from rising sea levels. The project involved two elements – Group research into the issues and urban design implications that led to the development of a group strategy as well as an individual design proposal that demonstrated the application of that strategy in a specific location. Students researched the issues and establish the implications for the city. From this understanding an urban design strategy was developed. This group research and vision then formed the context for individual proposals for a specific site within the wider group strategy.

Many of the schemes were particularly relevant toSouthamptons emerging City Centre Masterplan which the council are due to launch later this summer. This work showed that the city needs to look at a coordinated approach to flood protection that realises the huge potential this engineering problem offers as a catalyst for much wider spatial improvements to the city. The students grasped that dealing purely with the issue of flood protection was only partially dealing with the issue and that a more complex approach to flood management was required, one that opened up the possibility for a new way of thinking about the cities relationship with the water. That requires bold visions delivered over a prolonged time frame that combine strategies of Retreat, Attack and not just Defend. These were mature observations for undergraduates that challenge the often fragmented and tunnel vision approach of policy makers. Facing up to rising sea levels will also represent a significant opportunity to transform the Itchen River frontage