The visit was an opportunity to celebrate 2 accomplishments:
- The Kunshan Sponge City Demonstration Park won the 2022 International Award of Excellence from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
- Kunshan was selected as a National demonstration city for China’s national Sponge City program, actively exploring new ways of promoting citywide implementation of innovative water sensitive (or sponge city) approaches to urban water management.
The visit was also an opportunity to reflect on our activities in the past, and explore ways we can keep working together in the future. The group also toured Monash University’s water sensitive city features and the Green Lab, to discuss the increasing contribution sensor and IoT technologies can make to more efficient and effective water management.
We began working in Kunshan in 2012. Over a period of more than 10 years, we helped make sponge city practices ‘business as usual’ in Kunshan’s complex and challenging urban environment. We led the strategy and concept design for over 30 projects including the Kunshan Innovation Park. These projects delivered to city government the evidence to transform what was once perceived as innovative but risky into standard practice, which in turn authorised the next wave of innovation and collaboration. This evidence underpinned subsequent policy development, helping to overcome the regulations, community perceptions and institutional risk aversion that can get in the way of innovation, practical action and mainstreaming.
“We’re hoping to continue our productive collaboration with the City of Kunshan, to advance the innovation agenda of their sponge city program. We’re also exploring ways to expand the collaboration into integrated water and waste management in regional and peri urban areas as well,” said Dr Jianbin Wang (Chief Innovation Officer, Water Sensitive Cities Australia).