Antwerp is not located under the tropics but it will suffer more than other cities from heat-waves in the future. This is due to the “urban heat islands”. This phenomenon implies higher temperatures in urban environments than in their rural surroundings. The denser and more mineral the city is, stronger is the phenomenon. This makes Antwerp’s city center especially vulnerable (4°C in average difference).
To tackle this issue, the city first decided in 2013 to map the phenomenon. Then numerous solutions have been implemented: changing the urban building code to integrate a degree of permeability of gardens and green roofs, encouraging inhabitants to create green facades and front gardens, or creating and promoting a network of cool spots in the city. The city also informed the general public to prevent heat-waves via a website, and a physical location, the “Ecohuys”(or Ecohouse in English).
The biggest project around this is the renovation of the Zuider docks. It aims to transform the vast former parking lot into a well-designed new garden, with trees to give significant shadow, fountains to cool down the atmosphere and rain gardens. Those last ones tackle another consequence of climate change by receiving extra rain in case of a flood.
Front page photo credit : Jeroen Broeckx