Browsing Department of Mechanical Engineering & the Built Environment by Subjects
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Renaturalising the water courses: dynamic interactions between communities and natureIn ecology, an ecosystem is defined as a system of interconnected elements formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. In all ecosystems, communities of organisms include people as main actors, either as designers of its infrastructure or as participants in its upgrading. Combined with urban design, landscape architecture has the power to stimulate human experiences by alluding to dynamic patterns of still or rushing water. We love landscapes as physical spaces and we also respond to landscape beauty with immense appreciation; our urban cultural ecosystems blend harmoniously with water. By being transformed into polluted artificial waterways or fiercely running rainwater discharges, sometimes our meandering water courses can endanger people as well as the environment. How can we re-establish a balance between our ecosystems and the anthropocentric remodelling of our cities? The authors discuss the trends of renaturalisation/renaturation of water courses in some European countries, where previously water management has implied working against nature to ensure progress for mankind. Instead of only containing rivers, the new paradigm shift makes nature an ally to stabilise water levels, prevent floods in densely urbanised areas, and safeguard water uses. Water managers and city planners pursue water systems with water rules and policies backing their claim: ‘living with water’ and ‘building with nature’. Recent projects could be easily compared with Leonardo’s hydrology ideas in Renaissance. In his Treatise on Water, Leonardo focuses on moving waters and trained rivers in relation to their water cycles and the tectonics of the earth’s surface with the aim of benefitting cities and people.