Too Risky to Build?

Unpacking the Challenge of Urban Development in Rotterdam’s Unembanked Areas

The societal challenge: The city of Rotterdam continues to deal with the dynamic relationship between the need for new housing and other urban development, and its growing vulnerability to flood risk due to climate change.

Over the past decades, have been built in unembanked areas in the city: Waterfront areas that are not protected by dikes. Looking ahead, the city faces multi-faceted challenges and opportunities: As port activities are moving to the west, more space becomes available in the city for redevelopment, including much-needed new housing. But these areas also face unique vulnerabilities to flood risk today and looking to an uncertain future. This raises many questions regarding where and how to build: Are we growing safely or creating (new) risks through our development choices? What adaptation strategies exist to responsibly grow, and how do we implement them?

Answering these questions requires  open dialogue and collaboration. We are part of the RED&BLUE research programme, a five-year transdisciplinary initiative focussed on the development of integrated real estate and infrastructure climate risk strategies for the Dutch delta. Our network includes over 50 scientists and practitioners working together across a number of fields, and Rotterdam is one of the living laboratories for our research.

Key objectives of the panel discussion:

    1. Fostering knowledge exchange. Facilitate greater awareness and an exchange of ideas and best practices. This will foster a deeper collective understanding of the interplay between urban development and flood risk, specifically tailored to concrete real-life examples in Rotterdam.
    2. Identifying innovative adaptation solutions. Which strategies and solutions define a solution space for flood risk adaptation in urban settings? How can we design and build in ways that mitigate flood risks and foster climate adaptive urban development? How do we understand the trade-offs and paradoxes when building in flood-prone areas: e.g., when is an area classified as “vulnerable to flooding”? Which decisions regarding spatial planning are made daily, by whom, and to what effect on the city and citizens? What roles can stakeholders take to promote collaborative climate adaptation in urban development
  • 19:00      Welcome by Ties Rijcken (TU Delft)
  • 19:05      Introduction Red&Blue by Zac Taylor (Assistant Professor of Management in the Built Environment, TU Delft; Academic Lead-Delta System, Resilient Delta Initiative)
  • 19:15      History and future of urban development in Rotterdam’s unembanked areas by Cees Oerlemans (PhD RED&BLUE technical adaptation strategies)
  • 19:30      Panel Discussion: Unpacking the challenge of urban development in Rotterdam’s unembanked areas from multiple perspectives.
  • 20:30      Q&A session
  • 20:45      Closing remarks by Paul Gerretsen (Vereniging Deltametropool)
Practical Info
  • If you visit this program, it is not necessary to buy a separate admission ticket for the festival heart. A ticket for this program already gives you access to the floating festival heart.
  • Please report to the welcome desk of the Rotterdam Architecture Month at the square in front of the Maassilo. Here, scan your ticket and receive a wristband that will grant you access to the program in the floating festival heart. If you arrive 30 minutes before the start of the program, you can also take a route through the festival heart.
  • IMPORTANT! Do not go directly to the floating platforms without a (program) wristband, as you will not be granted access.

Go to website

Practical info

From: 19:00 uur
To: 21:00 uur


festival heart (Maassilo)
Maashaven Zuidzijde 1-2
3081 AE





Mede mogelijk gemaakt door

Delft University of Technology
Stichting Kennis Gebiedsontwikkeling (SKG)
Vereniging Deltametropool
Resilient Delta Initiative
Hogeschool Rotterdam

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