On Friday 17 January in Kunshan, China, a three-party Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), the Kunshan City-construction Investment and Development Company (KCID) and the Planning Bureau of the City of Kunshan was signed. The MoU represents a combined commitment by the two Kunshan City agencies for city planning and city construction to “extensively use their future projects as incubators of new planning, design concepts and new technologies that are generated out of the CRCWSC and thus providing the opportunity to test research concepts and findings at a city-scale”.
The City of Kunshan, located 50km north-west of Shanghai, is one of the most economically successful county-level administrations in the greater Suzhou region. In 2010, the city was recognised for its efforts in improving living conditions in towns and cities by being listed in the United Nation HABITAT 2010 Scroll of Honour, the UN’s most prestigious award in human settlements development. The City of Kunshan is a “water city”, with over 1000km of waterways defining the urban fabric of this beautiful water town. The rapid economic growth and urban development in recent decades present a great challenge to its water environment, and water quality in its waterways is inevitably degrading. In addition to its effort to sewer all its municipal wastewater to treatment plants, the City also realises that managing its stormwater to reduce diffuse pollutant loads into receiving water is equally important to preserve and sustain its unique water environment.
Over the last 3 years, KCID, the development and construction agency of the City of Kunshan, has begun to adopt a water sensitive approach to its new developments, ensuring that development parcels incorporate ecological landscapes for water quality improvement. A small number of pilot projects have provided early proof-of-concept of the merit of this approach to many of its stakeholders. By coordinating the efforts of KCID with the City’s Planning Bureau, and in partnership with the CRC, the City of Kunshan hopes to advance a city-wide initiative to systematically transform the City into a water sensitive city.
“Kunshan aims to harness the opportunities presented by the city’s development program to incorporate design features that protect and enhance the waterways that have intrinsically defined the historical quality and liveability of the city,” says Professor Tony Wong, CEO of the CRCWSC.
The MoU obligates the City of Kunshan, through these two agencies, to annually identify and resource at least one major integrated project for investigation with the CRCWSC to showcase new water sensitive planning and design concepts and implement innovative technologies. Discussions have already commenced to identify projects for 2014. Potential projects to be considered are expected to vary in scope to include city and peri-urban planning, precinct-scale design and developments, design and construction of public realm ecological landscapes, flood management strategies and waterway restoration methods and templates.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to expand the potential for the CRCWSC to influence the transition, design and development of cities in China. The partnership has been nearly 6 months in the making, and it brings to fruition a very dedicated effort by the CRCWSC’s International Engagement Manager for Asia, Jianbin Wang,” says Tony Wong. “Ultimately we envisage fostering pathways for further Australia-China partnerships between CRCWSC participants in this arena.”