The Social Perspective of Flood Infrastructure Design


The argument presented in this paper calls for an approach to flood infrastructure that considers not only the need for a technical perspective in design and construction but also a social perspective. As a result of climate change and changing weather patterns, it is predicted that more intense rainfall will be experienced, as well as rising sea levels, resulting in a greater number of people across the world becoming vulnerable to flood events. The need for flood alleviation infrastructure is therefore highly likely to increase. However industry professionals responsible for design and construction have often neglected to see flooding as a social problem; consequently they focus only on the technical and costeffective, rather than the social end user orientated, aspects of their design solutions. This paper presents the preliminary findings from research that seeks to understand how the social value of flood alleviation schemes is interpreted and discussed. The results are derived from an examination of the Didsbury Flood Storage Basin Improvements scheme between April and August 2013 in Manchester, UK. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with both the community and those responsible for the design, delivery and construction of the scheme. The findings presented demonstrate how social value is articulated by both groups, and where a difference in interpretation and perspectives exists. These findings reinforce the argument that adopting a socially, as well as technically, considerate approach for future flood infrastructure design and construction is a necessity, as more communities around the world are exposed to the very real risk of flood events.

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