Sponge Park

Sponge Park

Gowanus Canal

Sponge Park: a visionary concept for resilient urban design in coastal areas that responds to new demands for public spaces as well as to increasingly extreme weather conditions


  • June 2023   approx. CHF 39.00 | eur 38.00


Title Information

Susannah C. Drake

1st edition

, 2023


approx. 128 Pages, 80 color and 50 b/w illustrations

22 x 27 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-249-1


Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal is a hidden landmark, a valuable but latent asset to the local and broader community. Formerly a wetland creek, it is now severely polluted and bordered by industrial buildings. Although it is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, there is hardly any public access to the water’s edge. The existing canal bulkhead and drainage is also a piece of hard engineered infrastructure that is seemingly easy to maintain but inadequate for managing extreme weather—when it fails the impacts are catastrophic.

To facilitate greater access and ecological productivity of the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn-based firm DLANDstudio has invented the Sponge Park™. It is designed as a series of public urban waterfront spaces that slow, absorb, and filter dirty surface water runoff to clean contaminated canal water, reduce combined sewer overflow, and activate the canal edge. Revealing the form, distribution, and size of natural ecological patterns in relation to the shape and patterns of infrastructure, neighborhoods, and political jurisdictions is another key component of the design.

This book introduces the award-winning Sponge Park™ in great detail with photos, illustrations, plans, and diagrams. It demonstrates the concept’s potential as a component also of a larger vision for a new paradigm of coastal urbanism, upland adaptation, and right of way design in the twenty-first century that anticipates more frequent extreme weather impacts and affects American policymaking. It is a must-read for design students, architects, and academics as well as for elected officials, policymakers, and community activists.


Susannah C. Drake is an associate professor at University of Colorado Boulder’ s Department of Environmental Design and a founding principal of DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture in Brooklyn. In 2020, her Gowanus Canal Sponge Park project won the inaugural Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Award for Climate Action.

Authors & Editors