‘Green Sponge’ Stormwater Park

Qunli Stormwater Park: Heilongjiang Province, China

Principal Designers: Turenscape.
Design Director: Kongjian Yu.
Collaborators: Long Xiang, Han Xiaoye, Song Benming, Li Hongli, Zhang Wenjuan, Men Fanxin, Meng Xiangyun, Li Guo, Zhang Li, Giuan Miaomiao, Xu Bo, Yuan Enkai, He Chong, Chen Feng, Lin Hong.

This project presents a stormwater park that acts as a green sponge, cleansing and storing urban stormwater, which can be integrated with other ecosystem services including the protection of native habitats, aquifer recharge, recreational use and aesthetic experience, thus fostering urban development.



Beginning in 2006, a 2,733 hectare (6,753 acres) new urban district, Qunli New Town, was planned for the eastern outskirts of Haerbin in northern China. Thirty-two million square meters (344,445,133 sq. ft.) of building floor area will be constructed in the next 13 to 15 years. More than one third of a million people are expected to live there. While about 16 percent of the developable land was zoned as permeable green space, the majority of the former flat plain will be covered with impermeable concrete. The annual rainfall there is 567 millimeters (22 inches), with the months of June, July, and August accounting for 60 to 70 percent of annual precipitation. Floods and waterlogging have occurred frequently in the past, while at the same time the ground water table continues to drop due to its overuse.





Design Strategy

Several design strategies and elements were employed:

  1.  The central part of the existing wetland is left along to allow the natural habitats to continue to evolve.
  2. Cut-and-fill strategy to create an outer ring of mounds and ponds. The cut-and-fill around the perimeter is a minimum earthwork strategy to transform the site. Earth is excavated and used to build up a necklace of ponds and mounds around the perimeter of the park. This ring acts as a stormwater filtrating and cleansing buffer zone for the core wetland, and a transition between nature and city. Stormwater from the newly built urban area is collected around the perimeter of the wetland and then released evenly into the wetland after having being filtered through the ponds. Native wetland grasses and meadows are grown on ponds of various depths, and natural processes are initiated. Groves of native silver Birch trees (Betula pendula) grow on mounds of various heights and create a dense woodland. A network of paths links the ring of ponds and mounds, allowing visitors to have a walking-through-forest experience. Platforms and seats are put near the ponds to enable people to have close contact with nature.
  3.  The network of paths and platforms: A network of paths links the ring of ponds and mounds, allowing visitors to have a walking-through-forest experience. Platforms and seats are put near the ponds to enable people to have close contact with nature.
  4. A skywalk links the scattered mounds allowing residents to have an above-the-wetland and in-the-canopy experience. Platforms, five pavilions (Bamboo, Wood, Brick, Stone, and Metal), and two viewing towers (one made of steel and located at the east corner, the other one made of wood and looking like a tree at the north-west corner) are set on the mounds and connected by the skywalk, allowing visitors to have views into the distance and observation of nature in the center of the park.

The project proposes creating a 34ha park in the middle of this new town, which is listed as a protected regional wetland. The site is surrounded on four sides by roads and dense development. As such, the wetland had been severed from its water sources and was under threat. The proposal included the transformation of the area into an urban stormwater park that will provide services to multiple ecosystems.



All images: Turenscape – Articles first posted in https://urbannext.net/ and https://www.asla.org/





  1. Pingback: Can ‘sponge cities’ solve China’s urban flooding problem? | Landscape Interface Studio
  2. Pingback: Resilient Landscape:Yanweizhou Park, Jinhua City, China | Landscape Interface Studio

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