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Sustainable Urban Development Planning in Beijing — The Ecological Water Area renovation at Liangma River

Beijing’s sustainable landscape further expanded by the end of 2020: The Liangma River area in Chaoyang district was renewed by the Danish planning bureau NordiQ. The river crosses Beijing’s core area with a total length of almost 6 kilometres. Before its renovation, Liangma river was heavily polluted and the surrounding public space hard to access. Between March 2019 and August 2020, NordiQ has been involved in the renovation of a 4,5km riverfront space. The SGUP project team participated in their “Walking Tour Along the Liangmahe: Sustainable Urban Planning 3.0” last winter. With our fellow Mrs. Ma Jingjing, who works for NordiQ, we share some key insights into the new project.  

The renovation project is mainly based on the vision to transform the Liangma river area into a sustainable, connected, and accessible urban space. Therefore, NordiQ pursued a Grey-Green-Blue Strategy. The three colors represent the project’s key perspectives:  

·       Gray stands for mobility and the reduce of car traffic along the river. Through replacing parking lots with walking and cycling paths, the project promotes active mobility in Chaoyang District. 

·       Green represents the creation of green public spaces. The planners were able to transform 20 hectares of parking lots, dried up river beds and canals into green public spaces.  

·       Blue points to the project’s aim of implementing a sustainability concept for the water system. Wetland plants have been used to improve Liangma river’s water quality. Moreover, the river now functions as a reservoir that, during cloudbursts, can collect rainwater and prevent waterlogging in the city.  

Renovation of Liangma River according to the “Grey-Green-Blue Strategy” © NordiQ China

As a result, the riverfront centred in Beijing´s busy Chaoyang district became a highly desired recreation space for citizens and employees working in the surrounding offices. Throughout the year, you can watch people of all ages resting, walking, fishing, or even swimming at the heart of a megacity.  

For further information about NordiQ’s projects in China, please refer to their website: 

Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership

The partnership is working to influence political dialogue to address the challenges created by a fast-paced urbanization process and climate change in both China and Germany. It aims to create platforms for cross-city institutional exchange of experiences, facilitate knowledge exchange and promote capacity building that can drive the development of joint solutions to these challenges. Key targets of the exchange are to reduce CO2 emissions, promote a more balanced urbanization development and improve quality of life in cities in both China and Germany.