Making cities ‘spongy’ could help fight flooding — by steering the water underground

Urban landscape design called ‘sponge cities’ could help fight flooding by ensuring landscapes absorb water, a concept being explored in China.

The backstory: Landscape architect Yu Kongjian developed the “sponge city” concept to combat frequent floodings in China due to heavy urbanization and climate change.
* The method involves replacing the common “gray infrastructure” like concrete banks and walls with natural vegetation that allows the water to be absorbed into the earth.
* Yu has been pushing the idea for over 20 years, and it has begun to catch on as he delivered over 600 presentations to Chinese officials.
* Among Yu’s early successful projects is the Yanweizhou Park that withstood a typhoon hit this summer with minimal water pooling.

The broader perspective: The practice is becoming popular and goes by names such as green infrastructure or low-impact development in different parts of the world.
* This concept is driven by giving water space and introducing conditions for it to be absorbed back into the ground.

Challenges and criticisms: Despite its success, the reach and scale of the ‘sponge city’ concept in tackling climate change-driven crisis remain a concern.
* While heavy rains in Beijing led to some questioning the efficacy of the sponge city effort, experts suggest that the argument overlooks the larger scale on which the concept needs to be implemented.
* According to Erica Gies, author of “Water Always Wins”, the concept needs to be applied at a significantly larger scale to be truly effective against the alterations to the natural water cycle.

Looking ahead: While the concept is rapidly gaining acceptance, its implementation on a large scale remains a challenge.
* Yu Kongjian continues to promote and lobby for the application of his concept globally.

View original article on NPR

This summary was created by an AI system. The use of this summary is subject to our Terms of Service.

Contact us about this post






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *