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OKRA Profile

OKRA Landscape Architects

Over the last twenty years, OKRA has focused on the transformation of cities and landscapes for the people who use them.

OKRA has extensive experience in defining frameworks for urban development, design public space, master planning and strategization. OKRA is a multi-disciplinary team composed of more than 40 international professionals who work enthusiastically with partners and clients to create a better environment.

Rooted in the long-standing Dutch traditions of water management and living in harmony with water, OKRA has profound practical experience.

Our team has won many international design and planning awards in coastal, riverine, and urban water landscapes. OKRA has participated in many major international urban planning and landscape projects related to water conservation, including the design and construction of Katwijk coast, Cazand coast, and the renewal of the water system in Rotterdam.

OKRA takes advantage of multidisciplinary cooperation and creates many ecological and pleasant waterfronts that also ensure water safety. OKRA’s works are represented in many waterfront areas in the Netherlands and across Europe.

    OKRA's Philosophy

    OKRA Landscape Architects

    OKRA uses five guiding principles in all of our projects to meet resilience challenges in urban places.

    1. Holistic thinking to maximize and integrate value derived from water on a systems level

    2. Thinking for tomorrow by creating designs that adapt to climate change over time

    3. Nature-based solutions using a landscape approach

    4. Natural frameworks used to create harmony and balance between cities and the natural ecosystems upon which they rely

    5. Creating a blue economy by using water as leverage for urban and local development

    © OKRA | SZDW
    © OKRA | SZDW
    © OKRA | SZDW
    © OKRA | SZDW
    © OKRA | SZDW

      Water as Leverage for Urban Coastal Development

      OKRA Landscape Architects

      Together with MLA+ and Shenzhen IBR, OKRA established a design framework for mountain, sea, and land development that respects historical Chinese water strategies in combination with a modern Dutch approach.

      The project site is located in the Shenzhen special cooperation zone, surrounded by mountains and the sea. It comprises a 12km long stretch of beachfront property. The zone is of primary importance for ecological development between western and eastern Guangdong and the waterfront areas of the Shenzhen cooperation zone.

      Populations have inhabited this land for millenia, but future prospects for urban growth and prosperity are threatened by extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.

      Shenzhen is facing coastal- and land-based water challenges and must adapt to allow future urban development even as climate change progresses.

      Sufficient space should be reserved for nature-based development, using water as leverage for urban spatial and economic expansion. Together, the mountainous terrain and urban infrastructure cooperate as a kind of hybrid system, and both are incorporated in the water framework proposed by OKRA. The framework is comprised of several components including mountain and city "sponges" and designs for coastal defense from flooding and storm surge. This new water framework improves safety measures in the city, while also creating high-quality urban public spaces and improving opportunities for long-term economic development.

        OKRA's Five Water Philosophies in Shenzhen

        OKRA Landscape Architects

        OKRA’s 5 water philosophies were applied to this project in the Shenzhen Cooperation zone.

        The landscape typologies and natural conditions of the mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers define the unique blue-green framework of the Shenzhen area. To keep this framework intact, our team prioritized a balance between natural and urban systems in design.

        As we engaged in thinking for tomorrow to anticipate future challenges from climate change and urban expansion, we applied a landscape approach to the design of coastal defense infrastructure that supports a funtional ecosystem at the large scale. The holistic blue-green framework is designed to function for both people and nature by supporting the continued provision of ecosystem services like fresh air and water, habitat for local species, and food and medicine supplies.

        Together, the components of this network form the first line of defense from the impacts of extreme weather, thereby increasing climate resilience in this zone. In addition, our project offers space for recreation and cultural purposes, creating a safe and healthy environment for people of all ages to enjoy.

        Modern businesses need engaging environments, first-class amenities and superb educational facilities to attract global and domestic talent. Our project helsps to create a blue economy that supports the long-term vitality and sustainability of Shenzhen. Shenzhen will become a city of the future, where nature, humans and technology interact synergistically to achieve a superb quality of life.

        © OKRA | SZDW

          Water as Leverage to Create a Balance Between Nature and the City

          OKRA Landscape Architects

          Water is used as leverage in Shenzhen to create a balance between natural ecosystem preservation and urban development goals.

          Natural systems: The ‘landscape defense’ approach moves away from a conventional coastal levee system to a multifaceted dike system. Engineered systems for coastal defense are augmented by the natural protection provided by the existing coastal forest located in front of the development area.

          Urban systems: A shift toward nature-based solutions will enable natural systems to recover and deliver co-benefits in the form ecosystem services to the city. Different types of buildings, designed based on natural forms, will shape the built environment of the site and define public infrastructure. Organic-feeling urban space will be utilized by people and industry alike. Arrival to the city has also been considered in our design. Three of the four access roads arrive at the coast via a tunnel, an experience that will deight visitors through sweeping coastal views that change according to your place of arrival.

          © OKRA | SZDW