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Design Matters with Kongjian Yu

January 18, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Healing the world’s cities: Sponge cities and sponge planet

Climate change is real, and it is only exacerbating a host of serious problems that the world is already facing: floods, droughts, air and water and soil pollution, and loss of habitat. The grey infrastructures made of steel and concrete, which we built to protect ourselves and tackle the problems lack resilience and are not sustainable. The alternative is nature-based green infrastructure. The shift from grey to green is challenging traditional design practices technically, aesthetically and ethically. It will revolutionize the moral criteria and values that professionals are compelled to follow in practice. It will require design languages and designed forms that are shaped by the interactions of inner ecological process and human desires. It is already demanding innovative green technologies that are replicable and can be inexpensively implemented at the massive scale needed to halt these truly global threats. For the past twenty years, Kongjian Yu has been testing and implementing some of the nature based solutions in over 200 cities in China and beyond, and has significantly impacted national policies for improving the environment, particularly around water.

Kongjian Yu
Principal Designer, Turenscape
Professor, Peking University

Yu, a recipient of the Doctor of Design degree from Harvard GSD, is Professor and founding dean of Peking University College of Architecture and Landscape, founder and design principal of the global practice, Turenscape. He is a strong advocator of ecological security and “Sponge Cities” that have been adopted by the Chinese government for a nationwide ecological campaign. His innovative approach to urban planning and design is implemented in over 200 cities in China and beyond, and has significantly impacted national policies for improving the environment in China. His projects have won numerous international design awards including 14 ASLA Excellence and Honor Awards (American Society of Landscape Architects), 5 WAF Best Landscape of the Year Awards (World Architecture Festival) and 4 AZ Awards for Best Landscape.

He was elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He is a recipient of the Doctor Honoris Causa from Sapienza University of Rome and Honorary Doctorate from Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He received the 2020 IFLA Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award – the highest honor given by the International Federation of Landscape Architects, and the 2021 John Cobb Common Good Award for his contribution to the advancement of ecological philosophy and eco-civilization.