Shanghai relies on sponge parks to become a city of ecology


Shanghai’s growing number of parks and green belts are part of its fourteenth five-year plan (2021-25) to become a “City of Ecology”, but they are also said to act as “sponges” – to absorb drainage and to collect and purify rainwater .

Two years ago, the Shanghai government enacted regulations for the city to design and build a “sponge city”, an approach that will turn a city into a large “sponge” to solve drainage problems through facilities and technology.

According to the document, urban planning, construction and management should consider the functions of ecosystems such as collecting, storing and draining rainwater in areas such as buildings, roads, green belts and river networks.

It requires that this idea be implemented in the construction of facilities such as drainage systems, gardens, green spaces and roads.

All 16 districts of Shanghai have taken steps to renovate their existing parks and green spaces or to build new ones. The sunken square in Wujiaochang in Yangpu, streets around the “Shanghai Fish” lake or the Jinhai lake in Fengxian, the Urban Best Practice Area of ​​the Shanghai World Expo in Huangpu, are outstanding examples of the campaign.

How is this project going? Different districts produce different results.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Rainbow Bay Park in Hongkou District has “sponge city” designs in its gardens, ponds, and green belts.

Shanghai relies on sponge parks to become a city of ecology

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The park introduces the ideas of a “rain garden” and a “nature reserve green area”.


While strolling through Rainbow Bay Park, now popular online thanks to its blooming, pink-blooming Muhlenbergia capillaris, residents can discover “sponge city” designs in its gardens, ponds, and green belts.

In recent years, a number of sponge parks and green belts have emerged in Hongkou District, and Rainbow Bay Park is one of them.

Surrounded by residential buildings, the park introduced the idea of ​​a “rain garden”, which refers to a practice of treating polluted rainwater with plants, and “conservation green spaces” that are ecologically sustainable and have the least impact on the surrounding environment and have the lowest cost.

In the vicinity of the pond, over which a walkway with planks runs, there is a sunken “rain garden” with aquatic plants and hygrophytes that can absorb and purify rainwater. It is an “underwater forest”.

At dusk, many parents and grandparents who live nearby like to take their little ones for a walk in the park.

Shanghai relies on sponge parks to become a city of ecology

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The green area uses water-permeable bricks to support urban drainage.

“There is no flooding here on rainy days, the pond can store rainwater,” said a grandfather surnamed Li, 72, who took his two-year-old grandson to the park. “It is better to have some entertainment for children to play with.”

A green area with a new look was recently reopened at the intersection of Pingliang Road, Dalian Road and Yangshupu Road.

There is a bus stop number 842 near the green area. Bus dispatcher Wu witnessed the establishment of the green area.

“There used to be a shared apartment here,” she said. “Now it is good for a walk in the countryside.”

The green space uses water-permeable bricks and permeable concrete on its paths to reduce rainwater on the surface and relieve urban drainage.

Everything is designed with environmentally friendly ideas, even the wall of the public toilet is greened vertically.

Shanghai relies on sponge parks to become a city of ecology

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The largest sponge park in the city “Starry Sky” next to the newly opened Shanghai Astronomy Museum.

Pudong New Area

With the opening of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum in nearby Pudong Lingang, the city’s largest sponge park, “Starry Sky”, will also open to the public in August.

The Lingang special area of ​​the pilot free trade zone of China (Shanghai) was listed as the city’s first pilot area for the construction of national sponge cities.

It now has 500 acres of green belts in parks, 200 acres of communities that have been renovated with sponge designs, and 56 kilometers of eco-friendly streams.

The 54 hectare park has 38 hectares of land and 16 hectares of water. In addition to typical designs such as permeable pavement and rainwater gardens, it also has an ecological corridor, an ecological sponge wetland, urban rainwater storage and sewage treatment plants.

The designer added a 30 centimeter layer of rubble under the floor to filter the water.

Another park in Nanhui New City, called Chunhuaqiuyue (Spring Flower and Autumn Moon), has a rainwater garden.

It has ditches with plants that can control water flow and pollution, a landscape dry stream, an ecological retention pond, and artificial wetlands.

Shanghai relies on sponge parks to become a city of ecology

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Zhabei Park in downtown Jing’an.


In the Jing’an District, a new “sponge” project is the Dongjiaojing public green space and the fitness trail for residents.

It’s the city’s first major public green space that combines features like citizen fitness and “sponge city” designs.

And the district has also renovated streets such as Xiangyang Road N., Tongren Road, and Gonghexing Road with “Sponge City” technologies.

Rainwater pipes are located under the porous roadway. After the renovation, there is no more water when it drizzles, and there is no flooding when it rains heavily.

Zhabei Park, the oldest park in Jing’an District, has been renovated according to the city’s “Sponge City” water management concept.

A new drainage system directs rainwater into an underground cleaning and storage system, which also prevents rainwater from accumulating on the streets.


Leave A Reply