Compactness and connection in environmental design: insights from ecoburbs and ecocities for design with nature
It is widely agreed that planners should be aiming to create cities that are more ecologically sensitive. Governments, developers, planners, and designers almost everywhere claim to be doing just that. What does this mean, however? We argue that planners have been promoting a compact and efficient approach to green development, on the basis of a comprehensive yet evolving understanding of environmental systems. There is an alternative approach, however, more firmly based in psychological and human perceptions of nature. With popular appeal, as well as academic and professional roots in landscape architecture and environmental psychology, this connective approach stresses human connection to nature at a local scale. These represent distinctly different approaches to ecologically sensitive development and quite different priorities about which ecological processes are most important. Case studies of the Woodlands, Village Homes, Civano, Almere, Hammarby Sjöstad, and Sydney Olympic Park demonstrate these issues. Planners will need to make some difficult choices not only between more and less ecologically sensitive designs but also between competing ecological values.
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