Yu related a deep historical connection in China with the concept. The god Da Yu was able to, “use rules and measures, and made wise use of the land to select a safe place for his people to build a city.” Geodesign thus represents the king with an art for designing for survival with thousands of year of trial and error to select safe places for settlement and for agricultural cultivation.
More than 2,000 years ago the compass was designed in China for geography and design of the landscape rather than navigation. The compass combined 72 different variables that were invented for selecting and locating places for people. Land use and field making for planting and harvesting come from this art and scientific model, and the picturesque landscape of China is the result of this approach. With today’s fast urbanization, China has lost sight of the art and are using solely an engineering strategy.
Every year China has flood problems, with billions invested every year to protect cities from floods. Yu has done analysis that shows that only two percent of the land can be flooded, so why do we spend so much?
Channelizing the rivers is a pattern used throughout the world. This single-minded approach makes things worse with an approach to build more pipes, dams and dykes to deal with water that are in part responsible for the fact that 75% of surface water in China is polluted. In addition, more than 50% of wetland habitat has been lost in the last 30 years. Sewage plants won’t solve the problem, and the country has lost its green infrastructure that help regulate flooding. The speed and scale of geographical change requires a wiser approach.
The conventional way of city planning is to level all the ground, but we’re now starting to understand the value of a green infrastructure approach without storm water pipes and flooding problems, and with much less cost. An ecological approach is to make friends with water and floods, with careful analysis to remove channels and make the rivers safe again with a beautiful and flood-able landscape.
The first phase of this new pattern is now under construction. The new river park is a green sponge that retains and purifies the water with greater use by the people and a habitat for nature that also recharges the aquifer. The landscape provides a low-cost means without the need of electricity. This is an intensified wetland system that produces clean water. Now, the whole river is planning on using this approach.
The central government has announced that an ecological and beautiful China is a priority for a new type of urbanization. Geodesign provides the means for a re-integration and recovery of the art of survival with alternatives to create an ideal relationship between man and nature. It is also transformative to make ecological infrastructure across scales. The method is to use spatial understanding to define the boundary between man and nature and understand a minimum land use to protect the ecological networks. The geodesign approach has been adopted on a national scale with 500 people attending a Geodesign Summit in Beijing with more than 50,000 people viewing the content online, and more than 100,000 ministers and mayors now trained in the concept.