Zou Yubo of UPSpace Landscape Architecture Design Consultants has transformed a 136m2 runoff-generating lawn into a nifty, spongy landscape that sets the standard for flood mitigation green design


Beijing, China

Located in a former industrial factory, the UPSpace Rainwater Garden by Zou Yubo and his team at UPSpace Landscape Architecture Design Consultants Co., Ltd. is a modernized garden as one of the first steps taken to address flooding at the site.

The importance of UPSpace Rainwater Garden lies in its pioneering role in developing localized knowledge for the design, implementation and maintenance of LID installations in northern China.

The exemplary design encourages other companies in the factory to also modernize their gardens.

For its sustainable and inspiring design, UPSpace Rainwater Garden recently received the Green GOOD DESIGN Sustainability Award 2022 from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Runoff from roofs and walkways passes through a series of bioretention terraces before infiltrating the central garden below.

An underground cistern provides additional storage during extreme storms, and purified rainwater is reused for irrigation, car washing and water management.

Rainwater from the roof visibly slows in the first flush basins and dissipates in the cascading terraces.

Various plant species have been tested in the basins to improve the quality of roof runoff water.

Without additional irrigation, careful selection of native plant species ensured a lush and robust garden after just one growing season.

Rainwater both nourishes the native plants in the central sunken garden and recharges precious groundwater through the infiltrating bioretention soil.

In the fall, the vibrant golden leaves of well-preserved ash trees saturate the atmosphere with vibrancy.

Gabions filled with recycled rock from local quarries offer an inexpensive approach to spatial division and stormwater filtering.

A brightly colored permeable FRP deck invites everyone, from professionals eager to learn artistic rainwater design to neighborhood children, to stay and interact with this landscape.

An educational panel conveys the knowledge gained during the design and construction processes to site visitors.

Throughout the day and night, an illuminated corporate logo constructed with reclaimed glass boldly expresses the affection employees have for their workplace.

The latest addition to the garden – a custom-designed, artist-donated ‘Human and Nature’ sculpture, brightens Beijing’s dull, smoggy winters.

Since completion, the garden has been able to reuse and infiltrate 100% of the inflow and curbside runoff (57,060 gallons per year) from the 220 square meters of rooftops and the site itself.

Rainwater pathways and garden functions are clearly communicated by the custom-designed downspout, first-rinse pools, steel and concrete troughs, deck scuppers and FRP permeable deck .

The realization of the flow reduction prompted the designers to pursue their next research project – evaluating the water quality-enhancing function of bioretention.

A preliminary test of 17 parameters indicated excellent performance for metals, bacteria, TSS and petroleum.

Project: UPSpace Rainwater Garden
Landscape Architects: UPSpace Landscape Architecture Design Consultants Co., Ltd.
Chief designer: Zou Yubo
Design team: Gao Tiankuo, Tan Binjie, Liu Lisha, Lin Zhangyi, Xia Lixin, Jiang Siqi, Bai Xue, Sun Teng and Wang Zhixuan
General Contractor: Contractor UPSpace Landscape Architecture Design Consultants Co., lLd.
Photographers: Tong Jingxing


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