Our Sustainable Infrastructure Committee held thier annual technical forum on Thursday, Febrary 28th. This years event was held as a breakfast discussion on the concept of Sponge Cities, the newest landscape architecture style that allows China’s most dense cities to live with and incorporate landscape and construction techniques to convey and store storm water.
Terrain Studio’s Scott Slaney spoke with our membership on his experiences working in China developing sponge cities and how we as the true fifth element (along with earth, wind, water & fire) shape our environment and influence the area around us. The pattern of global urbaniziation is increasing so much, that the 70% of the worlds 4 billion people who were previously identified as living in an agricultural area will live in cities by the year 2050. This trend toward urbanization and densification leads to the common issue that we’ve all been faced with in recent years, urban flooding.
The sponge city concept is the concept that designs urban spaces to act like sponges and soak up or hold storm water that in some cases allows ground water to be recharged and in others is conveyed to a safe outfall location.
“The approach to urbanization imploys low impact development in a matter that creates economic, environmental and social value through high level aesthetics , urban functionality and spaces and experiences that elevate peoples quality of life.” Slaney told the crowd while explaining some of the specifics and techniques implemented during his time in China.
The concept of sponge cities isn’t a totally new one according to Slaney. Many of the tools and LID techiniques used overseas are a combination of things we’ve seen implemented in various parts of our country. Slaney touched on some of his work with SWA Group in California and the current work his company is doing on Post Oak Rd. here in Houston. The goal of all of these individual regions is to find a way to best protect their local ecosystems, rivers, lakes, and wetlands and through shared techniques and enviormentally sustainable ideas we can all have better more beautiful communities.
Thank you to Mr. Slaney the Houston Marriott at Westchase for being such gracious hosts. We hope you all can join us there again, March 7th, for the City Issues Forum.