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Birkeland, J L (2015) Prospects for nature in proposals for urban growth. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, 4(03), 310-4.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: sustainability; biodiversity; eco-positive retrofitting; net positive design; urban form; urban growth models
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/SASBE-10-2015-0033
  • Abstract:
    Purpose – Proposals for changing city-nature relationships are currently dominated by geographical approaches about urban form. They arguably lack a sufficient appreciation of design issues and opportunities. The knowledge and skill sets of urban designers and architects could improve the level of debate. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – This discussion evaluates two opposing radical proposals for urban growth. These and most other proposals for future human settlements can be located on a densification-dispersal axis. They are reviewed in terms of their ability to address the fundamental social and ecological prerequisites of sustainability. Findings – Neither model of urban form is sustainable without a new kind of built environment design that can address rapidly depleting ecological carrying capacity and social equity. Current models of urban growth in green urbanism and design fields would not adequately protect or increase the remaining natural life support system, which should be the foundation for any sustainability plan. These problems need to be resolved by design which can entertain a much broader range of sustainability criteria than formulas. Research limitations/implications – Given the broad subject area, there is a diversity of opinion and issues that cannot be adequately represented in a short paper. Therefore, the spotlight is placed on the far ends of this (dispersal-densification) dualism. Originality/value – This densification-dispersal axis can be transcended by moving from current approaches that close off future options to ones that can expand future options by increasing the public estate and ecological base: the basic prerequisites of sustainability. This is arguably possible, but only with a new design paradigm.