Rethinking the concept through the Australian experience

Adrian McGregor

China’s Sponge City:Rethinking the concept through the Australian experience


Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 16:00-18:00


Report Hall 201, Planning Building, Hongqiao West Road, Futian District

  • There is a translation at the lecture site.
  • The event is free and no registration is required.


Shenzhen Municipal Planning and Land Resources Commission (City Ocean Bureau)


Shenzhen Urban Design Promotion Centre

Adrian McGregor

Adrian McGregor is founder and CEO of the Sydney based landscape architecture office McGregor Coxall. He has over thirty years of international experience working, teaching and writing about urban design, landscape architecture, and the environment. Nominated as one of Sydney’s 100 most creative people, his expertise lies in combining development feasibility, politics, culture and ecology with a passion for design, to create sustainable places in the built and natural environments. Adrian founded BioCity Studio in 2006 and is in demand as an internationally acclaimed lecturer and author.

China’s Sponge City

Rethinking the concept through the Australian experience

The rapid mega scale urbanization of China over the past quarter century has had a major impact on the water systems upon which it depends for survival. Both flooding and drought are widespread. The ancient Chinese landscape has been transformed into an almost endless city draped across catchments, wetlands, waterways and natural areas. China has six percent of the planet’s total freshwater and nineteen percent of the world’s population. Its 50,000 rivers support some 662 cities with the supply of clean water to its 1.4 billion people a growing daily challenge.

The environmental problems in China have become a national focus for citizens with air and water pollution attracting widespread social media coverage on platforms such as Wechat. According to Chinese government reports and Greenpeace ‘more than 80% of China’s underground water drawn from shallow wells by farms, factories and rural households are unsafe for drinking because of pollution by industrial heavy metals and other containment. Widespread water pollution is damaging human health and negatively impacting ongoing economic growth and prosperity. Estimations of the likely cost of environmental repair run into the trillions.

Again, according to Greenpeace, there are now millions of Chinese people living in cities with air pollution that exceed emergency levels for a third of the year, whilst some regions have encountered year long periods with almost no days of good-quality air. The tiny PM 2.5 particles from industrial smog have been shown to cause lung cancer and respiratory disease. Rainfall is therefore often unsafe to drink due to dissolved emissions from air pollution and other forms of contamination from industrial waste flows, urban runoff and sewerage system overflows.

Based on the context of the Sponge City Initiatives in China, Adrian will further discuss and share his experience and thoughts on Sponge City and Water Sensitive Urban Design by incorporating his project experience in both Australia and China.