Biophilic Cities Love and Integrate Natural System Into Their Design
When ecologist Edward O Wilson coined the terms biodiversity and biophilia, he opened our eyes to new ways of viewing the world. Now, architects, designers, and academics such as Richard Register, Tim Beatley, and Geoffrey West are using lessons from ecology and network theory to design tomorrow’s resilient urban environment; biophilic cities.
What is a Biophilic City?
A biophilic city then embraces and incorporates natural systems into its design. They integrate the built and natural worlds in beneficial ways. The result? Biophilic cities are more attractive and less prone to floods, droughts, resource shortages, waste, and boredom. Biophilic cities have the potential to save money, resources, and spark the imagination.
Cities Are Natural – And Good For The Environment
We tend to view our built and natural environments as opposing forces. But I would argue that this perceived incompatibility has more to do with poor design than universal law. As it turns out, urban environments already play host to countless organisms. Let’s go a step further and argue that cities are natural. Far from being static, nature is the process of moving from few to many connections. In this successional process, each stage of builds upon the previous stage and creates the conditions necessary for the next. In this way, ecological systems diverge, diversify, and expand over time. What starts off as fragile becomes complex and resilient. As it turns out, cities behave in a similar way. What starts off as a small settlement expands to include many of the needs and services necessary to support the community. At each stage, the future is built on the present. As new connections grow, the system expands, and new possibilities emerge.
Biophilic Cities are Resilient
Resiliency is a property of systems and a measure of how connected its pieces are. As natural and built systems expand, their potential for connections increases rapidly.
Biophilic Cities Are Ecotones
Ecologists describe the intersection of two ecological systems as an ecotone. Ecotones bring together the biodiversity of each plus a few others (think otters at the edge of a lake). As a result, ecotones are rich in ecological relationships. They are among the most biologically diverse places on the planet. By design, Biophilic Cities are ecotones that connect economy, society and nutrients (money, food, and waste) with ecosystem services. Ex. Waste water runoff or the heat island effect become ecological solutions.