Sponge cities – To help combat climate change

To aid in the fight against climate change, “sponge cities” have been proposed.

In a world where climate change is the norm, immediate action is required. Dr. Yu Kongjian, a landscape architect, feels that cities can do a better job of interacting with nature and their surroundings. In response, he proposes that “sponge cities” be built to deal with rising flooding.

A “sponge city” is one built to retain, clean, and utilize stormwater.

Sponge cities, unlike concrete pavements, use natural wetlands to soak water into the ground before it can run into urban streets, creating a water-resistant barrier. The approach has achieved significant acceptance in China over the last two decades, and Yu and his colleagues have completed over 500 sponge city projects in cities throughout the world.

Yu saw that flooding was becoming more common in Chinese cities when he returned to China in 1997 after obtaining his PhD from Harvard.

He determined to try out novel flood-prevention methods while borrowing from tried-and-true “peasant farming techniques.”

Irrigation systems like mulberry fish ponds are instances of how ancient China used nature-based techniques to manage ecological concerns, according to him.

Yu formed the architecture firm Turenscape a year later to promote the idea across the country. (He also founded the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Peking University.)

Despite the fact that most sponge city projects follow the same model, each one “takes a different approach.”

Yu and his colleagues, for example, revived a dying wetland in the city center of Harbin, China, which was surrounded by highways and massive building projects. Their work changed the area into a landscape that lives in unison with its surroundings, solving urban flooding concerns while also increasing biodiversity, using a slash-and-fill approach to build ponds and marshes around existing wetlands.

The project, known as the Harbin Qunli National Urban Wetland, was honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects with one of the top prizes in the profession.

Yu’s model began to gain international notice, and Turenscape began to obtain foreign commissions.

Kaban Lake Waterfront Project in Kazan, Russia, was one of his most well-known worldwide projects, transforming an abandoned urban dump into a community park. The park, which was completed in a year, gets around 50,000 visitors every day.

Sponge cities, according to the architect, might have a significant impact in poor countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, where flooding is more common due to the region’s heavy seasonal rains and tropical climate.

“I’m confident the sponge city concept is one of them,” he replies when asked what China can contribute to global concerns.


Article Author Gerluxe Image: world-architects