Explanatory Research Center (ERS) Rainwater Living Lab



Tim Franke


+49 241 80 96335




Field of research: climate change, transformative research, extreme weather events

Number of partners: 4

Duration: 1.4 years

Interdisciplinarity: water management, urban engineering, geography and climatology


Project objective

The aim of this project is to initiate a Rainwater Living Lab using the example of the city of Aachen as part of the planned ERS project. The goal is to develop multi- and transdisciplinary analysis, planning and communication processes and tools for sustainable flood and damage prevention during extreme events. The ERS project as of a proof-of-concept study will examine the extent to which interdisciplinary approaches to early warning and risk reduction, such as sustainable and nature-friendly stormwater management based on the "sponge city" principle, can be developed. Furthermore, the ERS project will elaborate communication concepts that can be used to provide research results interactively in digital media.

Object of research and vision

Consequences of pluvial flooding include significant property damage and personal injury. The city of Aachen recorded heavy rainfall events with subsequent pluvial floods twice within one month (29.4.2018 and 29.5.2018). The May event in particular caused major damage across large parts of NRW. In the city of Aachen, the event led to widespread flooding in the city center - within a very short time, the fire department received over 400 emergency calls. Many buildings of the RWTH Aachen University and traffic junctions in the city were also affected.

Unlike so-called river flood events, which occur exclusively in areas close to rivers, heavy precipitation events can occur regardless of the location. They thus represent a risk potential worldwide, especially in densely populated urban areas, for example in North America, Central Europe and Southeast Asia. Absolute protection against such weather extremes is not possible, so that the risk management of heavy precipitation is a cross-sectional task of different disciplines and actors. At this point, new interdisciplinary approaches to risk analysis, new digital technologies and new urban planning concepts for water-sensitive urban development, wide-ranging risk communication and competent risk management are needed.

Institutional Partners and funding

The project is supported by RWTH Aachen University within an Exploratory Research Space (ERS).