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London Digs Up a River

A new park graces the Quaggy River, Source: CABE

A new park graces the Quaggy River, Source: CABE

We just learned of an interesting example of un-burying an urban stream to create better stormwater management and a new park in London. CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), the British government’s advisory organization on such matter in England, has included work around parks in their research, and wrote a case study on the project:

Sutcliffe Park in London is an example of a newly created floodplain which re-opened in 2004. This was undertaken in order to protect the centre of Lewisham from severe flooding by the River Quaggy. Previous engineering solutions had led to the river being contained underground in a concrete culvert. The re-development opened up the river again and lowered and shaped the park to create and enhance the ‘natural’ floodplain. The site now includes increased public access, educational opportunities, recreational facilities and habitat planting.

The new set-up allows the park to flood (during such rare events) and prevents problems downstream that the channelized culvert created — all the while creating a pleasant amenity. The transect of parks and storm water management is an underexplored area, and we’re glad to see a case study providing some more insight from across the pond.

3 Responses

  1. This is great. I actually got to see a presentation from Cincinnati’s Park Board Director where he showed the plans for the Park Board to uncover an old stream that was burried over for Interstate-74.

    The plan is to create a bridge crossing there, where they just filled in the stream, so that they can reintroduce the stream and reconnect two separated parts of the very large urban forest there – Mt. Airy Forest – via a wildlife corridor along the stream.

  2. Great post. Are there any examples of where this has already happened in the USA?

  3. The Cincinnati example sounds like an interesting project. We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled. There are several examples in the U.S. of “daylighting” in cities. For example, both Berkeley and St. Paul have unearthed streams, but rivers are less common — so the London example is particularly interesting. Copenhagen also uncovered a river also in its city center, and Seoul, Korea actually rebuilt a stream over a buried stream. So there’s many examples, and its an issue worth exploring more.

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