Urban Water Series Technical Master Classes: December 2016

March 21, 2017

On December 8 & 9, GNOF hosted the first in a series of lectures and workshops to deepen the technical knowledge of private and public sector professionals to improve their ability to design, develop, install, and maintain green infrastructure for a vibrant region.


Free Public Lecture, December 8, 5:30 – 7:00PM

Noted Danish architect Flemming Rafn Thomsen, co-founding partner of the trailblazing design firm THIRD NATURE (Tredje Natur), spoke on ways that humans and nature can thrive together—rather than apart—in hybrid urban/natural environments he calls “Third Nature.”

In an age of rapid climate change, Thomsen believes that cities must lead in developing solutions that can rebalance nature, people, and culture. He proposes a shift from “people-centric” to “planet-centric” thinking that resolves the classic contradictions between urban/nature, transportation/recreation, visible/invisible, theirs/ours, and even problems/solutions. Rather than planning and designing as if cities and nature are at odds with each other, Thomsen says that “Cities and nature must learn from each other, so that people, architecture, and nature can form a thriving symbiosis—affirming and sustaining the life of each.” This “blue-green infrastructure” incorporates stormwater management, climate adaptation, strategies for reducing heat stress, greater biodiversity, urban food production, better air quality, sustainable energy production, clean water and healthy soils—all of which benefit city dwellers, as well.

Thomsen and his partners founded Third Nature in 2012. The firm has extensive experience in urban design, landscape optimization, sustainable building design, and climate adaptation and planning. View Tredje Natur’s recent projects.


December 9, 8:30AM – 5:00PM

$75 for all-day master class. The course qualified for AIA MCEs under the Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW). Continuing education credits were provided for architects, landscape architects, and planners.

The master class was intended for building, landscape, planning, and/ or design professionals, and parish and city staff. The master class will include the following topics:

Empathetic Planning: Holistic Planning in the Face of Climate Change

As cities scramble to quickly invest in resilient infrastructure, it’s easy to push other planning potentials aside. But climate-adaptation strategies benefit from taking a whole systems approach. Rather than focusing on “climate adaptation” as a stand-alone issue, consider climate adaptation possibilities as you address other planning parameters—such as socio-economics, traffic flow, urban heat islands, pollution, noise, micro-climates, biodiversity corridors and barriers, topography, architectural specifics and so on. See how other cities have made climate adaptation strategies a cost-effective integration into other planning solutions.

Climate Neighborhoods

In cities of the future, every urban component will have at least a dual purpose, from bicycle paths that act as stormwater channels, to green roofs that generate energy or grow food, to community projects that meet a variety of urban needs. Blue-green climate adaptation strategies demonstrate how urban development can enhance existing utilization of space and infrastructure while addressing the demands of extreme weather events.

See how other cities are implementing Third Nature climate adaptation strategies for the benefit of people and planet. The palette of solutions available is wide and includes both custom-tailored designs for sensitive historic areas, as well as scalable generic solutions that can be implemented across a wide swath of dense urban areas. Residents play an important role in the success of any urban solution; they are the main beneficiaries of sustainability, lifestyle quality, and other gains, but deserve to be treated as partners, so that their needs are accounted for and they feel a sense of ownership in the end result.

New Grounds – Old Habits

Large-scale urban renewal projects, whether on greenfield or post-industrial sites, are always an opportunity to rethink boundaries, functions, typologies and practices. However, current “best practices” and regulatory environments designed to address issues of the past can thwart innovative “thinking outside the box.” How can cities transcend old legislative and regulatory paradigms to plan for more resilient and “future-proof” urban environments? We’ll discuss the importance of bringing together regulators and city officials, as well as planners and designers, to create new hybrid functions and urban commons.