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Houston 2019

Houston: Pluvial flooding and changing infrastructure 2019

In collaboration with
Rice University, Texas A&M

Funded by
Delft Deltas, Infrastructures & Mobility Initiative (DIMI)

Involved teachers
Fransje Hooimeijer – Associate Professor TU Delft
Stephan Rikkert – PhD Researcher Hydraulic Engineering TU Delft

Involved IE Design students
Yiran Li (Urbanism)
Lukas Höller (Urbanism)
Nadine van den Berg (Urbanism)
Eline van Unnik (TIL)
Thijs van de Wiel (TIL)
Kris Dik (TIL)
Onno Hendriks(TIL)
Laurens Boertje (TIL)

The Houston metropolitan region is home to more than six million people and an economic hub for many different industries and has – next to large exposure to hurricanes – to deal with fluvial and pluvial flooding. Big flooding in 2017 disrupted large parts of the city and accommodation water since then has to be incorporated in the cities’ economy, population and built environment that are still growing rapidly. Houston itself is famous for its urban sprawl, car-dependency and lack of zoning laws, issues that need to be adapting to the effects of climate change.

The project is dealing with pluvial flooding and changing infrastructure. The case is the reroute of the I-45 reroute around the metropoles core, giving room for urban development, nature and water. Around the current highway, three urban typologies are defined. In the project the potential of the reroute on the larger scale of ecological and hydrological improvement of the city are explored, and how this affects the development options of the three urban typologies on the small scale.


Result of the project


[Group project] Nadine van den Berg, Onno Hendriks, Laurens Boertje

Midtown: Right in the MIDst of a climate resilient and vibrant HousTOWN

Houston, TX is known for being flood prone. Recent disasters such as Hurricane Harvey (2017) severly damaged this city. Houston’s flooding problem is caused by urban sprawl, the flatness of the city and the lack of policy. The urban sprawl increases the amount of concrete and limits the city’s natural drainage, the flatness of the city means the water has nowhere to go, and the lack of policy causes a lack of stricter building regulations and zoning laws in regards to allowing developers to pave over crucial acres of land that could otherwise absorb rainwater.Recently the green light is given for the reroute project of the I–45 highway. Thepart of the I–45 between the districts of Midtown and Downtown will disappear. A new plan for this inbetween area is needed. In this report we will use an integrated approach to work from the biggest scale level of down towards the smallest scale level, combining the disciplines of urbanism, water mangement and infrastructure for the Midtown neighborhood of Houston.The research question for this project is: “How can we make Midtown a flood and climate resilient, vibrant part of Houston?” Which will lead to our wider I–45 area vision.We suggest to replace the I–45 with a lower level beach. The beach will function as a recreational public space and as a detention area for water in case of heavy rainfall. Around the beach there are mid rise buildings, and the beach will be connected to ditches that will be placed all over Midtown. Different measures of the 3 disciplines will be applied on 4 scales through passports containing guidelines based on the American grid system to realize a flood and climate resilient, vibrant Midtown. These sets of passports have great potential because they are also applicable in other neighborhood with the American grid system.

Link to project @ the TUD repository.


[Group project] Yiran Li, Kris Dik, Eline van Unnik

Humanizing Houston: Construction & Water Resilient Design of Downtown Houston

Starting from the scoping of urbanism, water, infrastructure and culture, corresponds to the aspects and concepts of resilient. The infrastructure construction and urban development designed for resilience are all human oriented, aiming to build a human friendly downtown area.

Use the concept of ‘Manhattan’ in urbanism, densify the existing empty area of the downtown area and make it mixed use to achieve resilience. Use the concept of ‘remove some impermeable infrastructure and replace with green space’ in water aspect, design water management infrastructure to adapt to the alternative amount of rainfall under the climate change scenarios.

Use the concept of ‘multilayer’ in the infrastructure aspect, design different layers of traffic systems to adapt to different weather, travel purpose and future travel method change. Use the concept of ‘incentives& awareness to culture change’ in culture aspect, design network and public space to create more awareness and guide people to change the life style step by step.

When densify the downtown area, although the main function is residential, it still mixes other functions like office, commercial, entertainment and green so that people can have different living experience in the tower. The infrastructure built to manage flooding issues is also designed as a landscape, where people can have public activities on it or underneath it. So the infrastructure has abundant functions that it will not act as a barrier in the city but an urban catalyst to make urban vitality. The multilayer infrastructure gives people not only more space to walk, but also a better space to walk in the hot or cold weather and clear directionality. The network and public space are designed to be resilient to scenario alteration.

While at the same time, it is the place where people can have public activities in a walking distance and on human scale. In conclusion, the human oriented resilient design is a pilot experience in Houston, in order to make people aware of living in a more sustainable way to protect themselves from worsening the climate change.

Link to project @ the TUD repository.


[Group project] Lukas Höller, Thijs van de Wiel

Dismantle Boundaries-Create Synergies: Rethinking Houstons Infrastructure

This report is not only the final result of the design made for the Infrastructure and Environment Design course (Q4 – Urbanism) but considerably more a representation of the entire learning process and the path towards the goal itself. The aim of this course was to investigate water related urban- and engineering designs in delta metropoles. The international context of the Bayou City of Houston (Texas, USA), its long flooding history, but also the contemporary state of the city made it a very interesting but also challenging task.

Link to project @ the TUD repository.