Dutch News

3 June 2014
The Big U: Dutch water design helps to save Manhattan

The consortium Dutch Water Design designed the ‘Big U’ to protect Manhattan against floods and has won The Rebuild by Design competition. The Big U design shows that the protection of low-lying parts of Manhattan can be designed in such a way that new opportunities for waterfront and the neighbourhoods behind it arise.

By reviewing the 10-mile coastline between West 57th via The Battery back to East 42nd Street as a series of compartments, the solutions can be profoundly local. In an intensive design process with community organizations three of the compartments were further elaborated with each a unique solution.


Dutch Water Design is an international consortium of 4 design firms that have pooled their know-how and expertise about the challenges and opportunities that designing in water environments brings.


The Netherlands have a long history of living with water. Large parts of the country are below sea level; major rivers flow through it. Water management issues have never been viewed separately from the environment we live in. Water has shaped the Netherlands spatially, and culturally. An integrated design approach has, on all scales, complemented the Dutch water engineers in making our environment safe, profitable, beautiful and resilient.


The immense growth of cities exposed to coastal flooding and the increased extremity of weather, have made water management an increasingly global issue. Trillions of assets are exposed, many livelihoods threatened. And yet, people enjoy water in their environment. The presence of water has many economic benefits.



Mother Nature Network: Will BIG U wrap itself around Manhattan?

Dutch Water Design: The BIG U.

Video: Big U, a day in the life.






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