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Application of Phytoremediation in Urban Design

In class on Monday this week, Professor Timothy mentioned the word “phytoremediation”. I was very interested in this and read and analyzed some articles.

The globalisation of the international economy has accelerated population migration and increased urbanisation, leading in the expansion of cities. As traditional industries cause more environmental damage and exhaust nonrenewable resources, modern society is gradually reforming and eliminating them, resulting in a massive amount of land becoming contaminated by industry and eventually becoming unable to develop in many ways. Due to economic and other societal reasons, these lands are difficult to dispose of, and they typically remain idle and finally become abandoned. Abandoned land makes adequate use of the enormous amount of vacant land impossible, and it also has an impact on the metropolitan landscape and the ecological environment.

RL Chaney called for the use of super-enriched plants to remove heavy metal contamination from soil in order to eliminate or reduce contamination levels and thereby repair the ecosystem in 1983[1]. In recent years, with the deepening of theoretical research on phytoremediation, phytoremediation, as an ecological restoration technology using plants and rhizosphere microorganisms to purify the environment, combined with landscape design and urban design, has been accepted by more and more people[2].

Case analysis

The North Duisburg Landscape Park was previously a Ruhr industrial district, and the natural environment suffered considerably as a result of early environmental neglect and unregulated industrial expansion[3]. The Ruhr industrial area employs ecological restoration technology to repair and transform the severely damaged ecosystem into an urban park.

Figure1: Landsclaftspark Duisburg-Nord Comparison chart before and after transformation


Butchart Gardens, located on Vancouver Island in Canada, is well-known for its ecological restoration of abandoned mines and cement facilities. The Butchart Garden uses natural construction methods with the purpose of long-term development. It attempts to preserve as much of the original shape of the site as possible while also providing a place for plants to thrive by constructing a sunken garden, a Japanese garden, an Italian garden, a rose garden, and a Ross fountain, among other garden designs.

Figure2: Current status of Butchart Gardens


We can draw from the instances above that, as plant development and restoration technology improve, phytoremediation technology will be widely adopted as the final phase in brownfield restoration. As a healthy planting landscape, this will have long-term effects on the ecology and landscape of brownfields.


[1] CHANEY RL. Plant uptake of inorganic waste constituents[J]. Land Treatment of Hazardous Wastes, 1983, 50-76.

[2] PILONSMITS E. Phytoremediation [J]. Annu Rev Plant Biol, 2005, 56: 15-39.

[3] Ding Yiju, Luo Hua. A Masterpiece of Post-Industrial Landscape——Analysis of Landscape Park in North Duisburg, Germany[J]. Landscape Architecture, 2003(7):4.

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