VOL: 7  NO:2 35-50   2010-2


A working landscape for New Orleans


Peter HERMENS1, Jaap van der SALM2, Chris van der ZWET3

1 Heuvelstraat 1 7245AT, Laren (Gld), NETHERLANDS.

2 Zuidhof 19 2381LR, Zoeterwoude, NETHERLANDS.

3 Vooruitgangstraat 161 2032RK, Haarlem, NETHERLANDS.

Received: October 2010 Final Acceptance: November 2010



This paper studies how strategies aiming at working landscapes can simultaneously improve stormwater resiliency and spatial quality in two suburban neighborhoods of New Orleans that were hard hit by hurricane Katrina in 2005. A spatial strategy mitigates stormwater flooding problems during a 1/10-year storm event and explores the potential of water as an amenity in the city.

The paper identifies the need for a new approach by quantifying problems concerning (1) hydrology, (2) vegetation and (3) vacancy. Based on topography, subsidence rate, problems with rain flooding and the original appearance of the landscape, 4 landscape zones are distinguished that provide basic concepts for interventions on all scale levels, addressing the 3 problems stated above. A new water plan for the area based on retain-store-discharge principles and a robust network of native vegetation form a new landscape framework. By utilizing the empty space(s) due to vacancies following the hurricane to serve as water storage, this problem turns into an opportunity to re-create attractive residential areas with a high quality of life.

The results of this study illustrate how preparation for the future and a changing climate pose challenges, but also offer opportunities for the creation of attractive delta cities.


Keywords: Working landscape, New Orleans, stormwater flooding, landscape architecture, water management.


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