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XinhuaNet: Interview: Mexico, China should share ancient wisdom for green building, says architect


MEXICO CITY, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- As founts of ancestral wisdom about the natural world, China and Mexico should combine their knowledge to build sustainable cities, award-winning Chinese landscape architect Yu Kongjian said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Renowned for his eco-friendly urban landscapes, the visiting architect noted the two countries have strong economic and trade ties, and untapped potential to cooperate on environmental matters.

"We have very good economic ties, we have trade. China consumes food from Mexico. But eventually we must share, first, knowledge," said Yu, founder and head designer of Chinese urban planning firm Turenscape.

People of Mexico's ancient civilizations were keen observers of nature's cycles, understood that water is life and even created floating gardens to expand their agricultural land, said Yu, adding that wisdom should be applied to solve some of the environmental problems facing today's cities.

Winner of numerous prestigious architecture prizes, Yu said he was inspired by age-old Chinese agricultural expertise when he developed his conceptual Sponge City, which manages rainwater to control flooding and irrigate green infrastructure.

"The key is to use nature," instead of relying on costly and unsightly "grey infrastructure" such as pipes, concrete walls and dams, "to control nature," said Yu.

As the name implies, Sponge City uses nature to absorb, filter and channel rainwater, reducing reliance on concrete drainage systems to control water levels.

The idea has been implemented in more than 200 Chinese cities, and has become the government's guiding theory for future urban planning.

Yu's Yanweizhou Park in Zhejiang province in eastern China won the 2015 World Landscape of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival for replacing an unattractive concrete flood wall at the wetland site with a lush green park, which serves to control flooding.

Cooperation between China and Mexico makes sense given their similarities, he said, noting that both are among the world's most populated countries, have large metropolises, and must cope with the effects of climate change.

The size of a metropolis doesn't matter as long as planners "use nature ... to create a resilient city. The city can adapt to climate change with wise use of the natural resources," said Yu.



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