Symposium: Sponge Cities 2.0

Lecturer : William Veerbeek, Jan Dirk, Travis Bunt, Markus Appenzeller, Dorothy Tang, Eric Frijters etc.

Time:April 23, 2017 


Sponge Cities 2.0 is a symposium held by Future+ during Shenzhen Design Week. It took place on April,23,2017 in I-factory,Shekou. We were honored to invite scholars local and abroad to discuss about the topic of Sponge Cities.




The Chinese Sponge Cities initiative has been pioneering globally in rethinking how cities deal with their water systems [both natural and infrastructural], particularly in light of global climate change and unprecedented urban growth. However, it is time to lean into the next step in this initiative. The current sponge cities works are primarily targeted at small scale engineering projects and focus on suburban residential development. The question of how sponge cities has to find its way into existing metropolitan areas, and how it can be upscale to operate in many of the rapidly urbanizing world’s deltas is still a major challenge. This seminar and subsequent workshops will see our natural and infrastructural systems as fully integrated ecologies.





Jan Dirk Hoekstra. H+N+S

Jan Dirk Hoekstra. H+N+S


According to Jan Dirk, Sponge cities should at least include 3 aspects. The first will be local system. Since the city has planned, built buildings and old buildings, and even unbuilt buildings. Urbanist should make sure that the main water system can take in and take out water.

He took an example of a project on the Rhine river:”We also need to think about some other problems, like if constantly enlarging the river will affect the channel and the change of nature and climate. The river also need to be well managed, since sometimes the course divert, etc. You need to think about all these factors.”


Eric Frijters. FABRIC

Eric Frijters. FABRIC

Infrastructure is the biggest challenge designers face next. Our body is like an integration of infrastructures. Every cycle and every organ has its own function.

Compared with body, what city can bring us? The neural system is like the database of our city. Every ten years, there is a release. So there is a comparison between the human metabolism and the process that construction material being transport in, used and finally transport out. As time goes by, more problems come out. When we are trying to solve these problems, will it more efficient if we compare it to human metabolism?


Markus Appenzeller. MLA+

Markus Appenzeller. MLA+

In fact, sponge city should be seen as an integration ...but not an isolated system. It should be involved in urban planning.If you want to define and design sponge city, you have to have a comprehensive and integrated perspective.

The strategy of improving the living condition is first we create more open space and form open system. And second, we can create individual spaces like 3D sponge system. Not only in the surface to create more, we will see it from the three-dimensional sponge system, construction scale will be encrypted into the plane cover, to ensure the water evaporation effectively, rather than directly into the surface or into a drainage system.