Article: Meet the Architect Whose Revolutionary “Sponge Cities” are Helping Combat Climate Change, by Siyuan Meng
Article: Should Los Angeles Transform Itself In A Sponge City, by AHBELAB
Post by Joshua Herrig, jlh2208
Sustainability Problem: Climate change is causing the temperature and sea levels to rise, thus causing flooding and storm surges in cities around the world. Since 2008, the number of Chinese cities affected by flooding has more than doubled. During 2019 alone, the United States was impacted by 14 separate billion-dollar disasters including 3 major inland floods, 8 severe storms and 2 tropical cyclones.
Solution: The “sponge city,” an idea created developed by landscape architect Dr. Yu Kongjian, is “one that is designed to retain, clean, and reuse stormwater.”
Dr Yu Kongjian founded and runs the architecture firm Turenscape and they have over 500 designs built and implemented around the world, but especially in China.
Inspired by peasant farming techniques, such as irrigation systems used in Chinese mulberry fish ponds, Turenscape uses nature based solutions to solve ecological problems.
Yu calls the design concept “negative planning” a term that means to put green spaces at the core of city panning. The sponge city designs include developing rooftop gardens, ponds, filtration pools, and wetlands, with permeable roads and public spaces designed to soak rainwater back into the ground.
The sponge city concept is the same for every project, however the specifics change depending on the location. For instance, in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, Dr Yu and his team revitalized a dying wet-land with a cut-and-fill strategy that added ponds and mud flats to already existing wetlands while in Shanghai Houtain they transformed a former industrialized site into a natural water treatment center, which cleans up 634,000 gallons of water daily.
The sponge city design not only lowers the risk of flooding but also increases biodiversity, decreases pollution, stops combined sewer overflow, and may even make citizens happier through access to beautiful park space.
Stakeholders: Turenscape architecture firm, city and country government, citizens of the city, (in America or Europe: NGOs that want to revitalize areas, and various neighborhood groups that surround the landscape)
3 Steps in Deploying: 1. Design sponge city landscape based off of the area’s needs, 2. Convince city government and perhaps big business donors as well as local citizens that the design should be built 3. Build the design
I found this part of the article rather enlightening in how Dr Yu was able to deploy the idea of the sponge city in China, despite some resistance: “Part of Yu’s success in China has been his ability to have the ears of the country’s top leadership. After being implemented as an integral part of China’s “ecological civilization” movement — which effectively made sustainability part of nationwide urban planning policy — Yu says that the model was more quickly implemented into a wider range of projects.ur He adds that he has delivered over 300 lectures to mayors around China, and a book documenting the subsequent conversations with these figures has been reprinted over 15 times. The book was later published in English as Letters to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City in 2018.”