Flood Alleviation Design: Adopting a Social Perspective


The argument presented in this paper calls for an approach to flood alleviation design that
considers not only the need for a technical perspective, but a social perspective as well. As a result of
climate change and changing weather patterns, it is predicted that more intense rainfall will be
experienced with rising sea levels due to increased precipitation. Consequently, a greater number of
people across the world are vulnerable to flood events. Flooding is a social problem, affecting not only
people’s lives, but also the economic prosperity of local business and the local area. However, flood
alleviation design within the UK is focused upon technical and cost-effective solutions, neglecting the
consideration of the people it is designed to protect. This paper examines the preliminary findings from
research that seeks to understand how the social value of a UK flood alleviation scheme is interpreted
and discussed by the local community and those responsible for the design of the scheme. The
preliminary findings are taken from the examination of an example scheme conducted between October
and December 2013 in Ripon, Yorkshire, UK. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with
the local community and those responsible for the design and delivery of the flood alleviation scheme.
The findings presented will demonstrate how social value is articulated and the difference in interpretation
between the local community it is designed for compared to those responsible for the design and delivery
of it. The conclusions drawn from the preliminary research supports the argument that adopting a social
perspective in flood alleviation design produces not only a technically successful scheme, but a
considered and socially acceptable one. This is an approach for future adoption in flood alleviation
design, as more communities around the world are exposed to the very real risk of flood events.

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