The Designer Who’s Trying to Transform Your City Into a Sponge

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Urban gardens tin produce nutrient much locally, perchance reducing shipping emissions. Are you moving connected systems wherever you’re incorporating nutrient accumulation arsenic well?

Yes, of course. With aquaculture, you tin cultivate lotus ponds and rice—any benignant of crops which you tin harvester pinch h2o management. This benignant of project, because it’s chaotic successful nature, it really creates a caller aesthetic. It’s not a normal garden, it’s not a normal park—it’s a productive park, it’s productive nature. Birds travel backmost if you rewild.

Virtually anyplace successful a metropolis tin move into a sponge, moreover astatine mini scales. Here's Hing Hay Park, successful Seattle, Washington.

Courtesy of Miranda Estes/Turenscape/The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Opportunities for sponge strategies person grown successful China arsenic its cities person grown. Is it harder to make an older metropolis spongier, location for illustration LA aliases New York, compared to erstwhile you’re building much aliases little from scratch?

I don’t deliberation so. Central Park tin beryllium a sponge. Los Angeles is simply a level city, and you person truthful galore gardens irrigated by water—just move those gardens into sponges. It is conscionable a mentality.

So we request to alteration really we think?

Yes. We judge that we tin divert h2o from nan Colorado River and we tin usage that h2o to irrigate, and we tin flush distant precipitation. For a agelong time, we’ve considered this to beryllium civilized: We would pump distant our sewage and a metropolis becomes clean. We divert h2o into nan city, and we irrigate a beautiful shiny lawn. We telephone this a civilization. No, that’s wholly wrong, because we are moving retired of water.

What is your proposal for a city—anywhere successful nan world—that mightiness beryllium looking to amended negociate its h2o successful a warming ambiance and make nan scenery amended for quality use?

The accepted stormwater solution, what we telephone grey infrastructure—concrete, pipes, and pumps, designed to flush distant a flood arsenic accelerated arsenic possible—has failed, aliases will neglect because of ambiance change. If you rebuild this infrastructure, you will make things worse, aliases you will neglect again.

But if you travel to nan greenish alternative, you will not only prevention money, but nan effect will beryllium much immediate. The sponge metropolis is fundamentally utilizing free nature. It’s simple. The problem is that it’s free. No 1 wants to put successful it, because nary 1 tin make money. That’s why I opportunity that we request to alteration nan business model. We request changes of policy, and we request changes of philosophy.