Historical Canals as Urban Landscape Infrastructure in Guangzhou: Reactivating Public Life Through Water

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In the heart of the Pearl River Delta, the city of Guangzhou is fast-growing and prone to flooding. In history, people constructed canals based on natural waterways to deal with water problems. The canal system not only served as an important infrastructure but was also as the backbone of urban life. But with the development of the road network in recent decades, the urban canals in the historical inner city have been neglected and are disappearing, losing their identity, and becoming the forgotten side of the city. What can be learned from the historical situation to reactivate the urban canals as carriers of socially and ecologically inclusive urban space? This chapter aims to identify design principles for (historical) urban canal design and examine their potential through design exploration, with Donghao Chong as a typical example. The results showcase how, through the meaningful application of historical knowledge, urban canals can become a water landscape infrastructure that effectively integrates public space by combining design, heritage, water management, and ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptive Urban Transformation. Urban Landscape Dynamics, Regional Design and Territorial Governance in the Pearl River Delta, China
EditorsSteffen Nijhuis, Yimin Sun, Eckart Lange
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-89828-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-89827-4978-3-030-89827-4, 978-3-030-89830-4
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameThe Urban Book Series
ISSN (Print)2365-757X
ISSN (Electronic)2365-7588


  • historical urban canals
  • heritage design
  • public space design
  • bleu space
  • urban landscape infrastructure
  • canal restoration

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