Urban Challenges

Dense urbanised areas face many challenges. Worldwide, people are moving to large metropolitan areas, while at the same time our climate is changing. More people in cities lead to more built and paved areas and less green space. These built areas create the Urban Heat Island Effect and a distorted water cycle. This in turn results in a city that becomes unhealthily hot during summer nights and that flood nearly every time it rains.

What happens when cities get:


Ecosystems offer the ultimate inspiration for cyclic water management. In a forest for example, rainwater is retained as much as possible in soil, organic matter and plants. This water is key for all life in this ecosystem. Only when the storage limit is reached, water will be slowly released to streams and rivers, and used to support life in the next step of the ecosystem. 

In nature all matter is recycled; nothing is waste or wasted. Therefore nature's hydrologic cycle serves as the ultimate inspiration for resilient cities and areas all around the world.


With ecosystem functioning in mind, current urban water management, in which we:

  • Feed clean rainwater directly into wastewater sewers to be transported over large distances to be treated elsewhere;
  • Use valuable drinking water, created off site and at high (environmental) costs, to flush our toilets and;
  • Use drinking water to irrigate plants in summer months;

suddenly makes less sense and leaves much room for improvement


Ecosystem functioning serves as a great source of inspiration for true cyclic water management for projects in cities. From small-scale blue-green roofs or single sustainable tree-pits, to a system-approach encompassing roofs, podium decks, SUDS's and open water. In other parts of the world, where water is scarce, we capture the water during rare, heavy rainfalls so people have access to it in periods of drought.

We have to learn from ecosystem services to design nature based solutions: sustainable, reliable and resilient!


How can we learn from nature?

The Permavoid Vision

Ecosystem functioning offers great inspiration and shows us how we can improve our cities and face the urban challenges. Our goal is to create nature based solutions for cities of the future. Solutions that are based on circular rather than linear processes, and rely on multifunctional use of space instead of mono-functional urban design. 

Nature as inspiration for resilient cities


Like nature, we will not stop to further evolve our concepts, solutions and products. Together with our broad network of partners all around the world we believe nature is perfectly designed to sustain life. Cities should be too!

Visit our Permavoid Experience Center


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