Thursday, May 07, 2009

Unique thoughts

Notes to thesis #3

Ecocity Builders explores and invents basic concepts in ecological city design. Some ideas are their own, original creations and some are ones invented and pioneered by others that are not getting adequate attention which Ecocity Builders champion vigorously. All are under emphasized or neglected tools that could help enormously with today’s economic, social equity, ecological and even climate and sea rise problems. Further, they help create a context – the ecocity civilization – which could further humankind’s compassionate, creative evolution.


Strategies by others

Transfer of development rights (TDR) (a legal and real estate development tool)

Raising cities for floods, tsunamis (used by ancients, neglected in New Orleans)

Virtues of well-ordered complexity, not simplicity (de Chardin, Soleri and others; indicates three-dimensional layout is healthy, two-dimensional not)

The anatomy-analogy (complex organisms compared to efficient, healthy cities)

General anti-car perspectives (criticism muted, a near-taboo, but some others agree with Ecocity Builders that it is important to confront this problem)

Connecting social justice issues to city design, affordability of transport


Strategies by their own

Origin of name “ecocities” (1979)

Keyhole plazas or view plazas (plazas with a corner or side open to view nature)

Ecocity mapping (a zoning overlay mapping system to direct future urban development and recovery of natural and agricultural land)

Ecocity fractals, or integral projects (a fraction of the whole with all essential parts present and well organized)

• “Anatomy analogy,” though not new to us, the term is

The formula/slogan “access by proximity” (the result of well-ordered, three- dimensional complexity in cities)

The slogan “roll back sprawl” and strategy elements to accommodate regeneration of agriculture, natural areas and features like small waterways, make room for bike and pedestrian paths, recycling yards, parks and sports areas

Various integrations of ecocity architecture features in clusters of buildings such as live roofs, bridges between buildings, tall solar greenhouses, mid block passageways – halls, alleys and gallerias – at street level articulated together


Mainstream good directions

Not unique or even unusual, there are many mainstream contributions to ecocity development becoming more popular recently. Though they are far from enough to get over the threshold into ecocities, these constitute a strong foundation we can build upon. They include:

New Urbanist mixed use “Transit Oriented Development”

Smart Growth initiatives similar to New Urbanists but at higher density and in more genuinely urban form

Green building features, energy conserving design, good salvage and recycling

General promotion of renewable energy alternatives

Organic, meat-minimizing agriculture and diet, urban food growing and farmers markets

Public and bicycle transportation in general

Nature regeneration strategies and actions such as creek restoration

General design integration

More training and socially equitable opportunities for minorities and lower income people in green jobs

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