Planning by intermediaries: making cities make nature in Amsterdam
This analysis of urban wetland restoration in the Netherlands examines how theories of distributed agency are changing the way planners approach city-building tasks. Illusions of a static, prehuman nature are falling by the wayside, and the negative environmental consequences of urban expansion are gaining notoriety. Green Design strategies that, among other things, espouse bringing nature back into the city alleviate many problems. But ecoconscious planners working on Amsterdam’s IJburg neighborhood have set their sights higher by attempting to turn cities into nature’s womb. And instead of making this nature directly through nurseries and fisheries, planners are instead working to create a field of action that will spontaneously create wild nature at a considerable distance from planners’ hands. In reviewing these experiments, this paper shows how planners marshal lake currents, plant spores, and flying birds alongside bulldozers and cranes to build homes and make wetlands.
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