Qunli Stormwater Park

 “GREEN SPONGE ” in ecological term means one that can hold , clean and drain stormwater in a natural way using an ecological approach . 

QUNLI STORMWATER PARK is one of the best example of a green sponge.It is a multi functional landscape design that demonstrates beautiful social places along with regenerating ecosystem.


Overview image of the Park via Book: Stormwater Management and Sustainable Development


Design Firm : Turenscape

Principal  Architect : Kongjian Yu

Area  : 300,000 sq.m.

Amount of water treated : 500,000 cubic m. 

Scale of Project : Neighborhood 




  • (3) Systems working in Partnership: Wetland, Infiltration System, and Sedimentation System

Harbin, Heilongjiang, China



The diagram above shows Qunli area of Harbin in relationship to the Songhua River and stormwater park 

Qunli is a new neighborhood located in the western section of city of Harbin, which is located in the province of Heilongjiang, in the northeastern section of China. It’s situated along the Songhua River which has historically flooded the low laying flood plains and wetlands along it’s boarder. At the center of the developing built-up neighborhood is The Stormwater Park which initially was a degraded wetland.


Temperate Climate – Relatively dry and reaches up to 70% of its 22 inch of annual precipitation from June to end of August .



The above map graphically demonstrates the high population density of both workers and residents around the parcel.

Out of a city of 3.8 million, Qunli is a home to approximately 350,000 people, thus because of the high density of the neighborhood, most of the environment is impervious (83.6%).



The main concept of development of the neighborhood of Qunli and the Stormwater Park was to elevate the overall plinth of the neighborhood while also retaining and recharging the aquifer with stormwater that previously flowed into the river, exacerbating the river water level during surge periods.

The Stormwater Park’s catchment area is 111 impervious acres surrounding the park.

catchment-area-03Catchment Area Map by Bloggers

Looking at the Park further, the design focuses on working with nature rather than starting up from zero .


Master Plan of Stormwater Park via ArchDaily

The existing degraded wetland is preserved .This helps the flora and fauna to maintain their own balance without interference from the public.


Diagram via ArchDaily

At the periphery of the wetland are public spaces , silver birch trees , mounds and ponds that are designed by the simple technique of cut and fill.

Storm water and Filtrating Ponds.


Diagram via ArchDaily

Expanding more on the filtration, there are three levels of ponds that filtrate water within the Sponge.

The Sedimentation Basin collect water from the rainwater drainage pipes into the park from  the surrounding neighborhood’s impervious areas and roadways.

At the second level are treatment ponds where sediments and pollutants are removed progressively more.

Lastly is the Natural Wetland, where after being cleansed, the water seeps into the water table.

The maximum amount of water that the Stormwater Park can handle is a little bit more than it’s catchment area, of 111 acres (5000,000 m3). Additional Rainwater that is over the capacity of the park to handle is diverted back to the River.


Diagram via Bloggers

Mounts covered with Birch


Diagram via ArchDaily

The Velocity of water from catchment is controlled by incorporating  various landscape features like mounds and steps.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Besides mounds, the Silver Birch trees in-between the filtration ponds act as a secondary means to slow the velocity of water flowing between the treatment and sedimentation ponds.

GROUND LEVEL- Paths Network and Platformlvl3

Diagram via ArchDaily

Sky walk , Pavilions and Towerslvl4Diagram via ArchDaily


  • The two viewing towers differ greatly in character , but they provide wonderful views of the wetland and human activities.And various such landscape features provide a great social space for the urban crowd.
  • It is noted that 20 new species of bird now using the wetlands. For a long time many Chinese were uninterested in nature, it was a great surprise to the city dwellers to hear the birdsong in the mornings.
  • Economical Development of Qunli
  • Real estate values have also doubled since the completion of the park
  • Rapid Urbanization of the nearby rural areas


Via the National Stormwater Calculator, Harbin’s climate is similar to that of Red Wing, Minnesota, experiencing rainfall amounts and temperature highs and lows comparable. Statistical figures and catchment amounts for Qunli Stormwater Park are as follows.







  • Controlling Soil Erosion on site
  • Controlling the velocity of storm water through incorporating various landscape features like green mounds , steps etc.
    10 -25% of stormwater entering the site must be within the Catchment area.
  • Limiting Human activity on the periphery of the wetland so as to preserve the natural wetland at the same time prevent wildlife from disturbance which often is the reason for various species to share the urban landscape with humans.



  • During the dry season, the natural wetland’s water level can drop to dangerously low levels jeopardizing the wildlife that utilize it. At times officials have to supplemental the water loss with water pumped in from the Songhua River. This increases the cost and energy factor.
  • Also there is a possibility of the sediment basins to be infected by bacteria as nothing is mentioned as to how will they prevent this from happening.



Austin, Gary, and Kongjian Yu. “Stormwater Management and Sustainable Development.” Constructed Wetlands and Sustainable Development. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016. 217-24. Print.











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