HOK’s Chris Fannin Discusses Resiliency in the Southeast Asia Nation of Brunei
A master plan developed by HOK will enable Brunei’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan to mitigate flood risks while strengthening its identity and sense of place.
“Located on Brunei’s coast, at the confluence of three rivers, Bandar Seri Begawan in recent decades has channelized its river, increased paving cover, and developed laterally at the expense of the surrounding rain forest, all of which have compromised the landscape’s capacity to manage its rainfall. ‘Flooding is huge,’ says Chris Fannin, senior vice president at HOK and a director of the firm’s planning group. ‘The amount of rainfall is phenomenal. Combine that with high tides and rising sea levels, and it is the perfect worst situation.’”
“The development master plan seeks to re-establish the river as an element of green infrastructure to manage frequent flooding in the city center, and to establish an urban growth boundary to preserve the forest. The design for the riverfront eco-corridor encompasses some 370 acres of naturalization areas and over 50 acres of built-up landscape. Principles governing its development include improving the flow and function of the rivers, naturalizing upstream riverbanks to improve stormwater absorption, and adding waterways and bio-swales through urban neighborhoods to promote rain infiltration and manage runoff.”
“Advantages of these resilience-based initiatives ripple beyond their functionality. Although the river eco-corridor originated as a flood management strategy, through stakeholder meetings it has grown to encompass tourism and urban regeneration. Moreover, the resilience-based initiatives contribute to the revitalization of Brunei itself. ‘The rainforest and the river,” says Fannin, ‘that’s the cornerstone of Bruneian identity.’”