Water Sensitive Design Urban Design and Ecological Landsape Design in Hebei, China (2016)

Client Organization: 
SPD Planning & Design Corporation
Project Location : 
Hebei, China
Secondary Client Organization: 
Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture
Summary of Project Idea: 

The devastating environmental impact from China’s rapid urbanization and resource extraction necessitates new resilient landscape practices that reduce pollution, increase biodiversity, and conserve water. However knowledge from landscape science and design rarely fit into the economically-driven development framework, for it requires time and research. By partnering with the Beijing-based urban design firm SPD International, our academically-driven interdisciplinary team had the privilege of spending one year creating a model ecological design for an urbanizing town outside of Beijing.

The site is Baihe, a small, highly polluted mining town located in Hebei Province. After a collaborative charette and site visit during the summer, the Master Plan of the town was completed and presented to the local government by SPD. However the Masters Project team continued to develop thoughtful ecological recommendations for Baihe afterwards, using it as a model case study for similar sites in China.

Recommendations took the form of an in-depth report exploring technologies focusing on Water Sensitive Design and Low-Impact Development techniques for the urban, agricultural and industrial regions of the re-imagined city, with an emphasis on visual communication. The report also outlines case studies for similar sites as well as recommendations for the roles of designers in planning Chinese cities.

Designing for this environmentally challenging landscape required a new, interdisciplinary technique which our team fulfilled by having team members whose programs encompass Landscape Architecture, Environmental Policy and Planning, Sustainable Systems, and the Ross School of Business.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Sustainable Systems
Landscape Architecture
Additional Faculty Advisor(s) and Department(s): 
Jose Alfaro
Contact full name: 
He Li
Job title: 
Executive Vice President
City: 
Beijing
State or Country: 
China
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Ming Xu
Contact Phone: 
+86-10-83225866
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
Staff member of a potential client organization
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Megan Barnes, MLA Landscape Architecture 
  • Elizabeth Baskerville, MLA Landscape Architecture 
  • Kathleen Carroll, MS/MBA Sustainable Systems 
  • Dannan Hodge, MS/MBA Sustainable Systems 
  • Wenjuan Liu, MS Sustainable Systems 
  • Yuye Zhang, MLA Landscape Architecture 
Profs. Ming Xu and Jose Alfaro visited SPD in August 2014. SPD staff and Profs. Xu and Alfaro discussed potentials of SPD sponsoring a Master’s Project. This proposal is generated after that discussion.
Project Status: 
Past Project