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Greening the city: Can the ecological and the human dimensions of the city be part of town planning

Newman, P., Mouritz, M. and Burke, G. (1994) Greening the city: Can the ecological and the human dimensions of the city be part of town planning. In: Proceedings of the National Greening Australia Conference, 4 - 6 October, Fremantle, Western Australia pp. 165-174.

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Abstract

Ideas about green cities have been around for centuries, however it seems that these ideas have been sidetracked by a strange mixture of opposites: neoclassical economics and town planning regulations. On the one hand contemporary economics has divorced itself from ecology and on the other, town planning regulation, originally based on garden city ideas, has helped to facilitate cities where 'nature' is idealised, 'packaged and confined to parks and gardens. This paper suggests there needs to be a creative tension between the economic and ecological dimensions if a city is to emerge.

If a vision for Greener City is going to be realised then we need to place this quest within the historical context of those who have struggled with this tension, from writers such as Morris, Ruskin, Howard, Geddes, Mumford, Jacobs, Schneider and McHarg. This lineage has attempted to resolve the contradictions of the industrial city- how to be human and green- or the need for an 'organic" process that sees nature and the city as indivisible. But it seems the modern city (ecosystem), particularly those based on the sprawl based model of Los Angeles , are neither human nor green, and seem to be heading towards collapse ecologically, economically and socially.

The contemporary urban ecology movement, which is now a dominant feature of present urban discussions around the world (at both a professional and activist level) is part of this historical lineage in trying to resolve these issues, but now the stakes are much higher.

Thus it is important to examine our attitudes to the city and how they are influenced by urban philosophers such as those listed above. But often we have been influenced by anti-urban writers who leading urban greening programs that become tokenistic and excuses for people to try and hide urban problems rather than solve them, eg urban sprawl, traffic and waste water.

In this paper we will then show how the tension in these traditions has influenced urban form and the potential for greening, before providing some insights from contemporary physics, ecological economics and ecological design as a basis for the way forward.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Institute for Science and Technology Policy
Publisher: Greening Australia
Copyright: © 1994 Greening Australia Limited
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/22808
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