Rotterdam's Watersquare Benthemplein is a public space featuring a sports pitch, theater and greenery that automatically becomes a reservoir for excess water during heavy rain.
Thanks to its proximity to the sea, the flat nature of its topography and high levels of precipitation, the Netherlands is a country that is prone to flooding. When rainfall hits cities such as Rotterdam, it can cause closed roads and ruined basements due to the lack of drainage. Aiming to tackle this problem, Watersquare Benthemplein is a public space featuring a sports pitch, theater and greenery that automatically becomes a reservoir for excess water during heavy rain.
Located close to Rotterdam Central Station, the plaza has been redeveloped to offer more facilities to the public. It features three basins: one that includes a small stage, another that has slanted walls and can be used as a skatebowl, and the largest one which features a multi-sports pitch with terraced seating for spectators. Rather than keep water tanks and canal systems hidden from view, the square has been designed to make it clear that the three basins are also reservoirs, with the drainage chutes clad in conspicuous stainless steel and even including decorative detours around the square. When it rains, water from the top of the surrounding buildings is directed first into the smaller basins, then into the sports area when they are full. The video below offers an animated explanation of how the system works:
Similar to Denmark’s Rabalder Parken skatepark — which has also been built to be used to collect water in the case of flooding — Watersquare Benthemplein shows how functional urban facilities can be better integrated into public spaces through more inventive design. Are there other ways that civic utilities can be combined in a similar fashion?