read::zebra's

New kids on the block

In Excerpts on February 2, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Art by Carl Wiens

A rising tide of urban thinkers—indeed some who’ve recently come into power at Harvard’s design school—are advocating for a new way of approaching things. They’re calling it “landscape urbanism”:

At the heart of the landscape urbanist agenda is the notion that the most important part of city planning is not the arrangement of buildings, but the natural landscape upon which those buildings stand. Proponents envision weaving nature and city together into a new hybrid that functions like a living ecosystem. And instead of pushing people closer together in service of achieving density, as New Urbanism advocates, landscape urbanism allows for the possibility of an environmentally friendly future that includes spacious suburbs, and doesn’t demand that Americans stop driving their convenient cars. Americans have decided how they want to live, they argue, and the job of urban designers is to intelligently accommodate them while finding ways to protect the environment.

The underlying argument between the groups goes beyond the relative merits of density, or the question of whether you should start a planning project with the buildings or with the watershed. It’s an argument about whether human beings should adapt to the conditions in which they find themselves, or try to change them. Is sprawl inevitable, or isn’t it? At what point does it make sense to come to terms with it and try to find pragmatic, incremental solutions that don’t rely on any paradigmatic cultural shift?

Read the full Boston Globe story before you make up your mind. But after you do,  I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.

Consider that an open call.

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  1. […] Feb. 2 New kids on the block :: The controversial rise of landscape urbanism […]

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