Water being non-abundant yet being an important element for the creation of everything on planet earth needs to be conserved urgently and made sustainable for upcoming generations. The ratio of excessive usage of water to the amount of water saved varies drastically and hence, it needs to be looked into and the gap needs to bridge to meet needs.


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“Sponge City” in China—A breakthrough of planning and flood risk management in the urban context © Research gate

Many parts of the world are aware of these facts and have tried to contribute by rainwater harvesting, retreating wastewater and so on but the efficacy of such a method in conserving has proven to be very low. Even the fact of the water seeping through the ground and helping the groundwater level stay intact has an efficiency of 20-30% only statistically. 

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Sponge Cities ©www.greenearthops.com
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Sponge Cities ©www.greenearthops.com

The world intangibly demands a surplus in the output hence, the concept of sponge cities has been proposed to all the cities for further implementation. Sponge cities are cities that are designed to absorb and clean the rainwater and polluted run-off water and help maintain the groundwater level. The sponge city concept is a contrast to the notion that urbanization is depleting nature as the thought behind this stands as cities solving water problems instead of making it. 

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Sponge Cities ©www.greenearthops.com
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Sponge Cities ©www.greenearthops.com

Tons of liters of water are wasted coming from rainwater or city flooding by draining it through sewers and other drainage systems. This water can instead be transferred through several methods proposed within the sponge city concept and help the earth with a great deal. 

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Sponge Cities ©www.greenearthops.com

Sponge city methodology has been fully proved to produce fresh drinkable water after filtration. The methods a city needs to adapt to become a sponge city is by increasing green cover on built structures, building huge ponds and lakes amidst the city, lay down penetrable pavement blocks on roads, introduce rooftop gardens and rain gardens, and so on. If cities abide and execute these actions, then a city exercises towards a successful sponge city.

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Sponge Cities ©inhabitat.com/

There are a lot of other advantages that come automatically with the implementation of this system. The ponds and landscape readily improve the quality of life in the surrounding nature and also provides an aesthetically appealing look to the city all by itself which creates a sense of belonging for the users and also amplifies the value of the land. The ecosystem which will be created requires a lot less maintenance and cost as it is all-natural. Furthermore, the system is adaptable to planned out cities or new cities as the norm asks the designer to keep a certain balance between built and green space. Hence, these green spaces can be modified and be used as a part of the making of a sponge city. 

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Sponge Cities ©ahbelab.com

Citing an example, China has now 250 cities that have transformed into a sponge city successfully. Due to a lot of flooding and destruction over time. A landscape architect from China came up with this concept and first executed in one of the cities of China and then due to optimum workability the awareness was propagated and now the numbers have risen to what is mentioned earlier. The result of this is expected to be such that the flood will eventually prove beneficial to them i.e., the power to utilize natural calamities for self-sustainability. Seeing the spaces and optimization developed within China, many cities in Russia and the USA have also started to transform into a sponge city under the same consultancy.

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Sponge Cities ©www.sciencedirect.com

Cities that are already pre-planned should opt for this system and work towards it to avoid future scarcities. It’s a step towards sustainability utilizing stormwater, surface-runoff the water, rainwater, and water from flooding and other similar sources of water which has not been put to utilization up till now. The system requires the cooperation of all the sectors of people and the government to put this through and help conserve water to avoid an insufficient amount of it.


Shivangi is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Architecture degree. She desires to explore in the field of research and literature while leaving a mark on the world with her influence, design and experience. She believes that architecture is a proportionate part of her life inculcating other interests like playing sports, reading novels and travelling.