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Water smart cities: towards a place-based approach for waterfront management and flood protection


School of Social Sciences

About the Project

City waterfronts form part of cities’ critical boundary between the man-made and the natural environment, intimately linking the city and its inhabitants with water. In urban environments, waterfronts are integral to the network of green/blue spaces and encompass a range of uses with economic, social, environmental and well-being benefits. The impacts of climate change means that we will see more extremes of rainfall and threats from coastal and urban flooding. Resilience to climate change is one of the key components of change that waterfront cityscapes must address. In particular, the exposure to climate change-related extreme weather events in this multi-use space. Place-based solutions rather than engineering solutions see water as an integral part of the landscape and of public spaces e.g. HafenCity Hamburg, and highlight the importance of ensuring mixed uses, open spaces and integrated water, sustainable design and infrastructure including innovative and integral components of climate change adaptations to flooding threats.

The Tayside waterfront encompass many of these multi-uses and threats. A new £7m flood defence scheme along the waterfront in Dundee was tested during winter storm Ciara in Feb 2020. However, a combination of high tide and large tidal surge led to widespread flooding across the low-lying coastal waterfront. A key focus here lies in the developments in flood risk management and assessment of risk using a multi-disciplinary approach including input from engineering, geoscience, policy, urban planning and increasingly community-based approaches to resilience and well-being.

The key aim of this project is to better understand how integration of ‘place-based waterfront approaches’ for innovative flood protection and vulnerability risk assessments can develop ‘waterfront smart cities’ in the 21st century, promoting better quality of life, well-being, resilience and protection against extreme climate change. This Hydronations PhD Studentship will benefit from expertise in hazard geoscience (Prof Sue Dawson) and the integration of place-making in city urban planning (Dr Al Waer).

We invite applications from highly motivated candidates with interests in interdisciplinary integration of flood geoscience using mixed methodologies across social science. The successful applicant will have a 1st or 2.1 class degree in a relevant subject (e.g. geography, urban planning, environmental engineering, geoscience etc.); qualification at Masters level may be an advantage.
Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline. Applicants must send a completed application form (available here https://www.hydronationscholars.scot/apply), their Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter to the primary supervisor by the final submission deadline of 8th January.



Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. This project will be hosted at University of Dundee. Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 11th or 12th February 2021.


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