There’s been a decision that it’s OK for them to get muddy, and there will be hoses outside so you can wash the kids before they go back inside
The Swedish city of Gothenburg is well known for being a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. Recently, it became the first in the world to trial a large-scale zero-emissions city zone.
Now, a new initiative aims to make the city even more famous by celebrating its rainy weather with smart and playful urban design. The plan is called Rain Gothenburg and it hopes to make Sweden’s second-largest city “the best city in the world when it’s raining.”
One part of the project involved designing a local playground to be particularly fun when it’s wet. This meant creating dips in the ground to make the puddles deeper and more satisfyingly splashy, as well as installing lilypad-shaped rain shelters from which water gushes into a sandpit where children can make pools, rivers, and dams.
“The tourist agency has only wanted to sell pictures of a sunny Gothenburg, even though it rains here nearly 40 percent of the time,” explains Jens Thoms Ivarsson, the lead designer behind the project. “What we’re looking at is: how can we use the fact that it rains quite a lot in Gothenburg in a creative way? What if we can turn the rain into an asset for the city?”
Another project exemplifying the Rain Gothenburg approach is the design for a new school, Torslandaskolan. As part of the design, wide pipes will channel rainfall from rooftops down into a pool and then towards a natural delta marshland of puddles and stepping stones.
“The schoolyard will change naturally and have a different appearance when the weather is different,” says Anna Rolf, one of the architects who worked on the design. “Normally you just try to take all the water away and want it to be clean and look the same every day.”
On dry days, the Guardian reports, the pool can be used for skateboarding. The marshland will feature different types of vegetation and real mud. “There’s been a decision that it’s OK for them to get muddy, and there will be hoses outside so you can wash the kids before they go back inside,” Rolf says.
Currently, Thoms Ivarsson is planning to make his rain-friendly urban design ideas more widespread by talking with urban practitioners in the UK and the Netherlands and show them how rain can be used to increase the liveability of a city.