Combine, Connect, Construct
Should a road be only a means of transport? Or can it do more? Could roads, for instance, not only take you from A to B but also harvest rainwater and guide runoff strategically? And can dikes – important to protect low lying communities from the threat of floods- be used for transport, building waterfront houses and even producing energy? Drains... could they have a second life as roads when they are dry?
This is the world of multi-functional infrastructure. As the world gets more congested and life more demanding, we need to rethink infrastructure. No longer is it enough for it to serve a single purpose; it should perform multiple functions. These theme pages are dedicated to multifunctional infrastructure – wetlands for water treatment; groundwater recharge zones for recreation, road crossings for water retention… there is so much that can be done better by thinking beyond a single use!
Why focus on multi-functionality? Perhaps one reason is that the problems of the present and the future—such as Climate Change, resource scarcity and fragility of eco-systems—have driven us to adopt a Systems approach to tacking them. The nexus between water, energy and food security is now well-recognised. On the same lines, it is now easy to see how our needs (e.g. transport, water, communications) and the infrastructure we build to satisfy those needs (e.g. roads, dams, telecommunications) affect each other.
For all the theoretical work and real-world development related to multifunctional infrastructure, it is still a nebulous concept. Different disciplines understand the term differently, and the concept is still most strongly associated with the field of urban development.
This thematic page tries to gather and showcase a few examples. Apart from innovative ideas, the selection also aims to represent a variety of fields, including some other than urban infrastructure. Of course, by no means is this page meant to be a definitive resource on multifunctional infrastructure, but more a starting point that triggers discussions and raises awareness.
We urge you to participate: comment, voice your opinion, share your knowledge, post your videos... make this space your own!