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Sponge Cities

I was as amused and intrigued as whoever reading this might be, when I came across this phase during my research period, in my final year. My curiosity was its peak and suddenly I was so sure that I wanted to research an ecologically sensitive as well as an interesting, hip sounding topic like it.

A sponge city is one that is designed to passively absorb, clean and use rainfall in an ecologically friendly way that reduces dangerous and polluted runoff. Associated techniques include permeable roads, rooftop gardens, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, green space and blue space such as ponds and lakes. Properly implemented sponge cities can reduce the frequency and severity of floods, improve water quality and allow cities to use less water per person. Associated strategies can improve quality of life, improve air quality and reduce urban heat island effects. This research aims to explicate the Sponge city concept and its development, and consider the implications of the transformation of urban land-use planning and urban-water management practice. Case studies of China, Germany, and Portland etc., are studied to understand the effectiveness of the sponge city concept. To achieve the dual goals of sustainable water-use and better flood control, more effective development and implementation of land-use guidance and assessment tools (urban flood-risk assessment, land-drainage guidance, climate projection methods) are recommended. Water as a resource is irreplaceable, yet can be a disaster during a heavy rainfall in modern cities. Modern cities need to be designed in a more adaptive way, sensitive to the ecosystem. The concept follows the philosophy of solving a city’s problems with its own resources, instead of creating more problems”. In the longer run, sponge cities will reduce carbon emissions and help fight climate change. This water sensitive green urban design technique is bound to be sustainable and effective in achieving its goals. With appropriate case studies from different climatic zones, the benefits of sponge cities and its various techniques are highlighted, where the result is an improved quality of the urban environment, and reduction of the incidence of flooding. The Sponge City concept and related guidelines and practices will provide multiple opportunities to integrate ideas from eco-hydrology, climate change impact assessment and planning, and consideration of long-term social and environmental well-being, within the urban land-use planning process.

Here is my full research project on Sponge Cities, that would hopefully encourage water sensitivity in architects and the public alike.

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