Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Helen Kongsgaard

Second Advisor

Dong Zhang


Most northern Chinese cities have inadequate drainage infrastructures, especially those tertiary cities that were built after World War II. These cities have small to middle size urban area but with high density. They are served by drainage infrastructures which are in the form of canals. These canals were built at the same time as cities with goals of protecting themselves from flooding and transporting stormwater in summer. With the growth and development in the past 80 years, the urban area has become much denser. Many cities have been installing underground pipelines to collect and transport stormwater. Thus the water level of these canals is getting lower and lower and becoming a less important part in drainage infrastructures.

Nowadays, these canals are under used most time of the year because the flooding season in northern Chinese cities is only one to two months in summer. During the dry season, these canals only collect and transport small amount of stormwater. They are isolated from city by elevation differences and constructed walls and fences. They are forgotten by residents and city governments because they are no longer fully functional nor aesthetic. What is the future for these canals? Is it the time for transformation of canals both in forms and functions?

Another common issue in northern Chinese cities is that residents have no access to natural flowing water in dense urban areas. Because dry season during a year in these cities is long, canal systems are the only large water bodies in urban areas. But they are not appreciated. They are treated as knives cutting cities into pieces. However, in another form, canal systems could be seams in cities.

Therefore, the future for canal systems could be creating interaction between stakeholders and water in urban environment. The topic of this thesis is about exploring different design strategies to find a new identity for canal systems and at the same time to meet ecological and social demands of cities. During dry season, canals will be narrow green ways where people have access to flowing water. In different urban context, canals will have different strategies to serve cities. In urban core areas, canals will function as city parks for recreation. In suburban areas, canals will expand to vacant land to collect stormwater from neighborhood. Canals as green way systems could also create more connections between neighborhoods. During flooding season, the canal systems could still protect cities with higher capacity for stormwater. The details of strategies will change depending on cities environments, cultures, histories and etc. This thesis will take Pingdingshan City in northern China as study city.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.