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Yu Kongjian is the architect making mates with flooding

I received an opportunity to look at Yu in his pure habitat that night. He escorted me and Geng into the membership by means of a set of engraved steel doorways and throughout the courtyard, the place the standard stone ground had been changed with thick glass. Inside he ushered us downstairs to an enormous desk beneath that clear ground. As we sat in ornate, carved chairs sipping bright-green cucumber juice, I seemed on the moon above. Finance ministers have been additionally visiting the membership that night, so Yu rotated between our tables. Earlier than we left, he gave me a memento: a heavy tome titled Designed Ecologies: The Panorama Structure of Kongjian Yu. After dinner, his driver chauffeured us in a brand-new Mercedes minivan to my lodge, the place Yu received out to stroll house—his each day constitutional.

Per week later I visited one in every of Turenscape’s initiatives in progress: Yongxing River Park, positioned in Daxing, a far-flung exurb of Beijing. “Earlier than” satellite tv for pc photos from three years earlier confirmed a  river straightened and confined by steep concrete partitions. “Now” photos have been chock-a-block with buildings round a extra beneficiant, meandering path for water. 

The mission was almost full once I noticed it. About two and a half miles lengthy and maybe two metropolis blocks large, the park follows the river. Employees eliminated concrete alongside the river channel and excavated soil to widen the riverbed. That dust was then molded into a big berm operating down the middle, creating two channels. The river flows on one facet; the opposite channel has large holes of various depths that act as filtration swimming pools. Throughout the dry season, the filtration facet is full of partially cleaned effluent from a sewage remedy plant. Wetland vegetation within the swimming pools clear it additional, and the gradual tempo permits some water to filter underground. Throughout the monsoon season, that channel is reserved for floodwaters, and the effluent is handled industrially.

Beijing Yongxing River Greenway


Geng and I walked a slim concrete path atop the central berm. Lots of Turenscape’s designs function walkways akin to this, hovering above wetlands, so individuals can enter the panorama year-round and admire adjustments from season to season. The broader riverbanks, newly free of concrete, are dotted with 1000’s of small sedges planted in intently set rows to carry the earth, like a pointillist-­rendered panorama. We handed younger willows, a local streamside plant that may survive flooding. Elsewhere, reeds, dwarf lilyturf, and different native vegetation stabilize the soil. Turenscape principally makes use of native vegetation in its designs as a result of they thrive on the water, climate, and vitamins accessible. 

In summer time 2020, throughout heavy summer time rains, Yu despatched me photographs of Yongxing River Park. The bushes and grasses had grown up significantly since I’d visited. The channel contained a number of water however was nowhere near overtopping. Turenscape doesn’t but have knowledge on Yongxing’s flood capability, infiltration charge, or water-cleaning companies, however Yu referred to as its administration of that 12 months’s monsoon a “nice efficiency.”

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