Following a devastating dose of heavy rain in 2011 that cost Copenhagen $1 billion in damage, the Danish capital decided to begin investing in hundreds of climate-resilient projects that could mitigate the city’s vulnerability to flooding as a result of extreme rainstorms — which are only exacerbated by global warming.
One such project involved outfitting one of the city’s largest parks, called Enghaveparken, to capture water in the event of sudden storms to keep it from flooding the streets and buildings when the sewage system becomes overwhelmed.
The park, originally built in the 1920s, was redesigned in a way that preserved its historic design while preparing for the realities of climate change. “It was kind of a Catch-22 situation—how to preserve this park and redo it, and still make room for this insane amount of water,” says Flemming Rafn, a founding partner at Tredje Natur, the architecture firm that worked on the project.
As part of the plan, some existing spaces in the park, including a sports pitch and an area inside a rose garden, were lowered a few meters to allow for the collection of rainwater from the park and nearby rooftops. In the case of heavy rainstorms, the entire park becomes a reservoir. When the sewer system is ready to handle more water, the park begins to lower some of its gates, gently letting the water flow out it.
The park is part of the city’s broader climate adaptation plan and it is intended to demonstrate that similar areas can be outfitted for climate resilience without compromising their design and innate public utility.