Student testimonial

Student Sophia van Eijden - MSc Urban Environmental Management

Climate change brings more floods and increasing river discharge. The risk of flooding in the Netherlands is increasing, even in large urban areas. But which areas are most vulnerable? And how can you minimize flood damage? To answer these questions in her thesis “Vulnerability of urban typologies to flood” Sophia van Eijden has looked at the relationship between the building characteristics and the construction of neighbourhoods and the vulnerability to flood damage: a‘Vulnerability Analysis.’

What I liked the most about my thesis is that it was so versatile and that my creativity was greatly challenged.

Thesis “Vulnerability of urban typologies to flood”

“In my thesis I have examined two cities, Deventer en Hellevoetsluis. In these two areas I have tested the characteristics of buildings, such as the number of floors and the urban design, like building density. Since you can never analyze all buildings, you choose one building for testing from each neighborhood or street. I have developed a method and the variables for the research. I spent hours on Google Maps counting floors of houses using street view. That worked very well, although the new residential areas were still not in the system. Then I went there myself! By determining the areas that are most vulnerable to flooding in a city, you can develop specific policies to spare flooding. Thus, the flood damage is limited. "

Sophia graduated commissioned by the engineering company Witteveen & Bos. "I found it very nice to graduate within a company. They needed me, so I did not investigate for myself but for another! That gives a lot of satisfaction. What I liked the most about my thesis is that it was so versatile and that my creativity was greatly challenged. "


Floods are not a standard topic in the chair group. Within the Master Urban Environmental Management, the focus is amongst other on the shape of cities in relation to the energy and water consumption. The focus is on energy and waste water. In her thesis Sophia has looked at water from a broader perspective and research into the management of all types of water. "I could use my accumulated knowledge about the water cycle for urban design."

For her thesis Sophia has had many interviews with officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and ‘Rijkswaterstaat’. "This integrated approach is typical of the Master Urban Environmental Management: you are viewing multiple streams simultaneously (waste, water and energy) and you look at the interactions between a policy document and organization and existing practice. Therefore, the methodology is not necessarily natural science, both methods from the social sciences and natural sciences from the measurements are made. I have also another tip: if you holding an interview always bring a present. It does well if you want to build up a good network!"