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Turenscape

Climate love

The “Sponge city” that absorbs floods

Cities around the world face a daunting challenge in the era of climate change: Supercharged rainstorms are turning streets into rivers, flooding subway systems och inundating residential areas, often with deadly consequences.

The usual way to manager water is more drainage pipes, building flood walls and channeling rivers between concrete embankments. KongJian Yu, a landscape architect and professor at Peking University has a different philosophy: “ let the water in! You can’t fight water, you have to adapt it” Mr. Yu calls this concept”Sponge City”, “ it’s like doing tai chi (a Chinese martial art) with water”.

Mr. Yu said growing up in a village in Zhejiang Province toward the end of Cultural Revolution showed him how earlier generations in rural China had “ made friends with water”. Framers in his region build terraces, berms and ponds to direct and store excess water during the rainy season.

Due to climate change, the warm air are holding more moisture, resulting in heavier rainstorms. Currently 65% of urban areas in china experience som degree of flooding each year. And the conventional drainage infrastructure haven’t solved the problem for 200 years.

The sponge city program was officially inaugurated by President Xi in 2015 with pilot projects in 16 Chinese cities and has since expanded to more than 640 sites in 250 municipalities, and the goal is to absorb 70% of rain that falls on those cities by 2030. From Mr. Yu’s company website👇, Turenscape, one of the largest landscape architecture firms, you can see all the sponge city projects they have sone. Houtan park, a mile long strip of greenery along the Huangpu river in Shanghai that Mr. Yu designed on a former industrial site.

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Terraces planted with bamboo and native forbs and grasses are bisected by wooden walkways that zigzag between ponds and constructed wetlands. The wetlands filter water, slow river’s flow and provide habitat for the waterfowl and spawning fish.

The sponge concept is not unique to china. One of Mr. Yu’s project in Bangkok: Benjakitti Forest Park was opened 2022.

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John Beardsley, the curator of the Oberlander International Landscape Architecture prize, which was awarded to Mr. Yu last year, saying that Mr. Yu’s impact on policy in China has been astonishing. “ KongJian has managed to be very critical of the government’s environmental policies while still maintaining his practice and his academic appointments.”

Sponge city is not a total solution, but it makes a significant impact on reducing the damage of climate change and carbon neutrality.






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  • mary Mwihaki

    1 w

    This is interesting idea

    1
    • Sarah Chabane

      2 w

      Super interesting, this seems like a good climate adaptation measure, definitely win-win with all these green spaces

      1
      • Gorffly mokua

        2 w

        This looks soo beautiful!! 💚💚

        1
        • Esther Wanjiku

          2 w

          This is very interesting

          5
          • Saustine Lusanzu

            3 w

            Interesting! It's a time other countries and cities use this as an example of occurrence of floods

            4
            • Jane Wangui

              3 w

              This is quite interesting.....the idea could actually be a game changer....it should be implemented and see if it works.

              3
              • Ann Nyambura

                3 w

                The idea of sponge could a game-changer in the fight against urban flooding.

                2
                • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

                  3 w

                  The spongy city concept looks amazing and I like the fact that you acknowledged it's not a total solution but it has a great significance in carbon neutrality.

                  1
                  • George Kariuki

                    3 w

                    Loving the Sponge City concept! This is exactly the kind of innovative, nature-based solution we need for climate change adaptation.

                    2
                    • dickson mutai

                      3 w

                      A great approach that not only mitigates flooding but also promotes ecological balance and resilience. It's inspiring to see such brilliant solutions being implemented globally

                      5
                      • Munene Mugambi

                        3 w

                        "Sponge City" offers an innovative, nature-inspired solution for urban water management amid climate change. Embracing water rather than resisting it, this approach promotes resilience and sustainability in cities. It signifies a proactive shift towards more adaptable and environmentally conscious urban development. It surely is intriguing to see how this would play out when scaled up

                        16
                        • Varsa Mahananda

                          3 w

                          What an amazing idea! This should be implemented in every region that has floods!

                          18
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