Saturday, March 28, 2009

What is Ecological Urbanism...

Looking at the official site it occurred to me; this is too broad of a term. To get a sense of that, one does not need to look any further than the speaker list. Seems like anyone that has ever uttered those two words together is invited. The exhibit feels the same way, a LOT of things thrown together.

Perhaps, though, it is not a problem with the conference or its exhibit, but rather it is a problem with its name. It is not trying to find a singular definition or vision for ecological urbanism but rather many of them. To give the work and speakers room to maneuver the conference should really be thought as 'Ecological Urbanism(S)'. The conference will really try to create a pluralistic and complex ecosystem of ideas.

Instead we are left with the question: what is ecological urbanism to you? You will more likely than not find work and speakers that support your position. However, while you respond this question it is comforting to know that the term itself is inclusive and will include other ways of thinking.

Personally I find the idea of ecological urbanism most helpful when it helps create a design methodology rather than strict rules. Looking for such a methodlogy it is helpful to look at Charles Waldheim's Landscape Urbanism. In the book Waldheim begins to describe a methodology of design that takes ecology as a medium of constant change. Design is then left to frame and guide that change. I will be in the look out for practitioners that use this design method.

Furthermore, I am interested in seeing if Koolhaas brings up his study of Lagos. I have written about this study, and specifically the Makoko Slum, in my thesis blog. I wrote an extended look at the Makoko for the trays eco-zine that will come out next week.

quote from my blog:

"Koolhaas also mentions the informal community of Makoko in Lagos as a possible prototype for growth there and in other cities. He is interested by the way the community has grown around the bay to saw, store, and ship lumber. In Makoko we can see an intersection of ecological conditions, commerce, infrastructure, and community. This slum and Koolhaas' reading remind me of the diagram (above) I produced for the NICAestudio. This diagram was meant to say that the new housing in informal settings needed to be embedded with commercial and social activities and then critically set within the landscape. Furthermore, this reading also signifies an evolution of Koolhaas' urban/ecological views from La Villete..."

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