This article firstly explores how Al-Ula, an ancient city in northwestern Arabian Peninsula, thrived historically despite little rainfall, and reviews the historic civilizations ruled this oasis. Then, it points out that the misuse of limited water resource degraded the environmental capacity of the oasis, resulting in the imbalance between humans and the land and eventually the decline of civilizations. Finally, the article concludes that the oasis and the watershed it depends on is an integral system, whose lifeblood is maintained by water cycle restoration. It is also one of the key tasks of Landscape Architecture to explore ecological restoration and sustainable management of watershed in the sense of hydrology.
This paper develops a water-based spatial biography of the Thua Thien Hue Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands and critically interprets the territory’s intertwined contemporary challenges — a growing population, greater demands on agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture, tourism and changes in annual rainwater, and sea level regimes. It is structured by four sections (typical geography and exceptional ecology, diverse settlement typologies, curse and perils of water, contemporary challenges) which interpretatively read the context. Historical analysis and mapping of present-day projects in the pipeline are complemented by extensive fieldwork in an attempt to reveal (and later build upon) the logics of the territory. It concludes with a series of projective design strategies developed by Research Urbanism and Architecture for the Thua Thien Hue Province Peoples’ Committee and the Hanoi-based investor Van Phu, which attempt to balance ecology with economy with a focus on lagoon restoration and new city and settlement types (for the living and the dead) which respond to the predicted consequences of climate change (particularly severe flooding). The project is premised on policy shifts from hardengineering to approaches that work as much as possible with natural means to simultaneously restore ecologies and generates opportunities to embed new sustainable economies. Not surprisingly, water urbanism strategies are key to this envisioned future development of the province.
China’s current catchment planning often focuses on formulating overall strategies for flood control and water resource distribution from a perspective of water conservancy. Usually, such plans are developed at large scales, covering a huge territory. However, city-scaled analyses, technical strategies, or roadmaps responding to issues of urban flooding, water pollution, etc. are less integrated into the current catchment planning; there is also an absence of comprehensive management methods for medium- or small-scaled urban water bodies. Combing with a case study on integrated catchment management plans (ICMP) for the Hamilton City, New Zealand, this paper reviews and summarizes the idea, role, objectives, key sections, and implementation of ICMPs in New Zealand, including a series of core tasks ranging from the trans-administrative catchment management mechanism, comprehensive and operational objectives and the technical system to the integration with long-term urban planning and Resource Consent requirements. In view of the status quo and major problems in China's comprehensive management of urban water systems, as well as the gaps in the existing formulation and implementation of catchment planning, especially the absence of integrated planning methods for medium- or smallscaled catchments that have a more direct and stronger relation with urban development, New Zealand’s experience in ICMP preparation and implementation reflects a paradigm significance.
To deal with the water environmental degradation and ecological damage of the Xiaonanhai Lake watershed in Songzi City of Hubei Province, China, this study first divided the watershed into 32 control units according to the administrative division and catchment zones, then analyzed the pollution source and load and calculated the water environmental capacity of the watershed with the water environment system model coupled by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool model and the MIKE 21 model. To better deal with different pollutants and divide the responsibility more efficiently, the study proposed a control-unit-based system of five ecological restoration measures including the three-stage constructed wetland, the natural wetland, the clean water corridor, the lakeshore buffer zone, and the emerged and floating plant belt. Finally, the performance evaluation of these measures was conducted under the “Dual Control” system of concentration control and total load control of pollutants. The result proved that the five measures could effectively reduce the total amount of COD, TN, TP, and NH3-N to improve the water quality, meeting the Surface Water Class Ⅲ Standard.
Landscape planning adjusts spatial structures and functions by altering the types of land use / land cover and the patterns of landscapes, and thus further impacts ecosystem services. This paper examines the impacts of landscape planning on ecosystem services and draws the conclusion that the control over the types of land use / land cover, the altering of landscape patterns, and the adjustment of landscape functional characteristics could change the type, quality, and performance of ecosystem services, respectively. Through an overall review on the application of ecosystem service evaluation, spatial mapping, and scenario simulation, this paper further concludes their roles in landscape planning: ecosystem service evaluation provides means to ensure scientific landscape planning; spatial mapping serves as a basis to the decision making; and scenario simulation visualizes all kinds of possibilities for an optimal choice. At the same time, such applications in landscape planning practices, ranging from green space planning, ecological conservation redline planning, land use planning to biodiversity protection planning, are exemplified. Finally, this paper summarizes existing research findings and limitations and proposes that future research is expected to study the relationship between landscape planning and ecosystem services, to build a dynamic composite planning framework that can improve ecosystem services, and to propel the research on the tradeoff-and-synergy among ecosystem services in landscape planning.
With huge economic and cultural significance, the Yangtze River Basin in China has long suffered from severe water pollution and ecological damage problems. On December 13, 2018, the Yangtze Ecology and Environment Co., Ltd. was established in Wuhan City, Hubei Province as the key implementer under the China Three Gorges Corporation to promote the Comprehensive Conservation of the Yangtze River in a marketoriented way. In the exploration of environmental protection path, “from pilot programs to experience summary, refinement, and promotion” method is adopted. Besides, two strategies are proposed: to integrate the sewage plants and the pipeline network to ensure the operation of the sewerage system safe and efficient; to integrate sewage plants, pipeline networks, river (or lake), and banks to reduce water pollution and restore the water ecosystem systematically. Furthermore, targeted strategies are put forward in different cities. After the environment is recovered and residents’ living quality is improved, the city can attract more investments and industries and a sustainable value chain of enterprises would be formed. Finally, all administrative bodies should serve the roles of resource suppliers and coordinators, acquiring expertise knowledge, learning the requirements of the service objects, and facilitating coordination and communication positively.
The author firstly points out several problems that commonly exist in China’s watersheds and the urgent need for multidisciplinary collaboration in ecological planning. The theories and practices on watershed ecological planning are reviewed respectively from the aspects of waterway planning, natural river and wetland protection, ecological baseflow recovery, nonpoint source pollution reduction, and biodiversity protection. The author suggests that if we could reserve multi-functional ecological zone in the new territorial spatial planning by multidisciplinary collaboration, ecological goals including flood control, water quality improvement, ecological base flow provision, and biodiversity protection could be achieved. In this comprehensive solution, only when water bodies and associated habitats such as the ground and underground, upstream and downstream, and rivers and banks are coordinated as a whole, it will generate multiple ecological benefits. Finally, the author believes that planners and designers have the ability to solve ecological problems. To fulfill this vision, we must call for collaboration between land planning and ecological watershed planning in the process of territorial spatial planning.
Jinan in Shandong Province, China is a city withfavorable location — the Yellow River runs throughthis region from southwest to northeast whilethe notable world heritage Mount Tai is its southbackground. The low reach of the Yellow Riverwhere Jinan is located is a “suspended river,”which is caused by a large amount of sedimentsfrom the upper and middle reaches. Over thepast decades, the levee has ensured the city and villages free from floods. However, it blocks the connection between the north bank area of the Yellow River and the urban town. The problems of ecological imbalance, deterioration of aquatic environment, and fragmented habitats have become more acute. Since 2017, the City Design Practice team of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has collaborated with the Jinan Municipal Government to envision a transformation of the riverfront from ecological, cultural, transportation, and economic aspects and further proposed the idea of building a continuous Yellow River National Wetland Park along the entire Yellow River. The design proposals address the national, watershed, regional, and city scales. From the concept proposed in the plan of the 183 km reach, to the planning strategies of the 30 km core demonstration area, and further to the specific design of the Autumn Colors on the Que and Huabuzhu Mountains Park, SOM has developed step by step from macro-planning to microdesign, to ensure the uniformity and consistency of the entire design at all scales. SOM looks forwards to presenting the Yellow River in Jinan as a proven model for other river cities to follow the construction of the Yellow River National Wetland Park, and providing a practical reference for the planning and design of the Yangtze River Basin and similar watersheds in other countries.
This article focuses on the water-city pattern development in the ShenShan Special Cooperation Zone in China and discusses the watershed-based sponge city construction strategy. Specific to the challenges of the zone, this study attempts to establish the correspondence between watershed spatial construction and the control indicators of sponge city, providing rigid norms for future urban development to ensure the safety and health of the whole watershed. At a practical level, three strategies of water-city pattern construction are proposed in aspects of 1) sponge system layout, to increase the proportion of the ecological resources across the watershed by a high-level ecosystem conservation; 2) urban waterway planning, to protect the zone from floods by increasing the water network density as well as introducing infrastructures for flood storage and discharge; and 3) land development mode, to regulate resources to achieve balanced land development by dividing the zone into many “islands,” taking full advantage of flood plains, reserving the lakes and reservoirs, and introduce more ponds. As the zone is going to start high-speed development, this article studies strategies of the water-city pattern construction and discusses the innovation methods of promoting sustainable development with sponge city construction at the watershed scale.
Guitang River, a once natural river breeding a harmonious human-water relationship, is now the longest inland river of Changsha City, Hunan Province, China, suffering from severer water problems such as water shortage, environmental polloution, and ecological degradation, which heavily impede the urban development. Commissioned by Changsha Guitang River Catchment Development and Construction Co., Ltd., the project team employed 4 mathematic models including a hydrodynamic model of water systems, a water quality model, a hydrodynamic model of drainage networks, and a hydrological model of watersheds to generate an optimal planning scheme for restoring the natural water circulation with the most appropriate planning scheme. Strategies were proposed including the blue and green ecological network combined with urban functional zoning, natural river restoration, riparian space improvement, watershedscale ecological corridor construction, and neighborhood-scale sponge city construction. The whole planning and design, from a coordinated planning at the watershed scale to the river scale, and to specific neighborhood projects, is to establish a social-economic-natural compound ecosystem to balance urban development with ecosystem improvement, while promoting the sustainability of the river.
A dike-pond landscape is characterized by asymbiotic and interacted relationship between water and land and considered an integration of human settlements with an aquacultureagriculture system. The Pearl River Delta has historically enjoyed a rich river network and been shaped by the mosaic-like constructed ponds with the meandering natural river systems, where the boundary of the constructed and the natural blurred and a resilient dike-pond landscape prevailed. However, the increasing demand for land resource during urbanization and industrial development has made such a landscape shrunk and surrounded by urban sprawl. The expansion of human settlements has not only changed the water-land symbiosis but also reshaped the pattern of the dike-pond landscape. This article, as an ongoing work, intends to observe and document the changes of such water-related landscapes from a different perspective, “seeing from above,” with historical satellite photos, Google Map images, and contemporary aerial drone photography. It discovered three important transformations: the settlement sprawl and transformation, the shrinking dike surfaces and imbalanced ratio of dike to pond, and the disappearance of the organic pond pattern. These findings can evoke critical studies on the dialectical relation between urbanization and ecology, and offer possibilities of re-creating a sustainable landscape in the Pearl River Delta.
Under the background of imposing engineered structures, including reservoirs and inter-basin water transfer infrastructures, being applied to solve drought caused by coal mining in Shanxi Province of China and floods caused by mineral mining in Western Ghats of India, the author reviews the intrinsic reason of water problems and recommends a water management solution that is design on “rain before floods” and “fields of wetness before flows of water.” Most magnificent engineered infrastructures are designed upon an idea of separating water from its milieu, thus becoming contained flows in pipes, channels, and reservoirs to solve water problems. To compensate for the shortage of existing water infrastructures, the author suggests gathering a regional-level landscape capacity for building “wetness” of resilience when facing problems of “water” in extremities. This is a radical shift compared with a problem-solving approach, as engineering does, to one that is grounded in landscape and uncovers opportunities.
The landscape research and design project introduced in this article aims to provide an alternative future for Shanxi Province, China, which seems arid and is challenged by monodevelopment mode. The research and design within the project are across four nested scales. A landscape infrastructure of intercepting wetness is taken as an underlying thread which initiates intertwined ecological, programmatic, temporal and material trajectories. On the other hand, the project demonstrates research, representation, design, and planning can actually inform one another, and the design remains open and adaptive to its changing environments.