Making cities more resilient to disasters, such as floods, is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a healthy urban population. Approaches to flood disaster management can also contribute to broader improvements to public health if implemented correctly; resulting in a win-win-win situation. Over the last few decades there has been a general shift from ‘hard engineering’ solutions towards ‘soft engineering’. The premise of hard engineering is to act against nature by stopping or counteracting its forces; soft engineering tends to work with nature (synonymous with ‘Nature-Based Solutions’) to modify or mediate any potential negative effects. A further development of this trend is away from ‘hard engineering’ towards ‘holistic engineering’ that hybridizes (the best) aspects of both hard and soft engineering with the additional requirement that any solution is evaluated in the broadest context of human health and wellbeing. Holistic engineering is a paradigm shift requiring a design-research based approach that goes beyond solving an immediate problem towards an expanded network of actors and agencies, including bottom-up strategies, in a socio-ecological spatial system. It requires a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach for holistic disaster risk management to be implemented.