The 2009 ELPR Symposium is kicking off with a presentation by Timothy Beatley from the University of Virginia School of Architecture.
With a flurry of fantastic powerpoint pics, Beatley introduced the audience to the world of biophilic urban design.
His primary focus was on encouraging city planners to look at every space as an opportunity to green.
The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. In Biophilia Edward Wilson defines biophilia as an “innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”
Studies have shown that this is indeed the case– Therapy: Walking in Nature, a British study performed to see if there was any marked difference in emotional health when individuals walked in nature versus in shopping malls, found significant reductions in depression, anger, tension and fatigue in individuals who spent more time walking in nature. Humans have become disconnected from nature due to dense, compact urban design.
As a result, more and more, cities and neighborhoods are attempting to incorporate nature in city planning and building. The book Biophilic Design, of which Beatley is a contributing writer, attempts to rethink urban infrastructure in an effort to eventually develop a multi-level design that connect humans with nature.
What are some of the step that can be taken? Simply incorporating natural light in the workplace considerably raises moral and productivity. Efforts such as growing green rooftops, walls and bridges or gardens in sewer runoff systems are all small steps that many cities and neighborhoods have already undertaken to reach out to nature. Rethinking architecture so that it is reimagined as a stream and an opportunity to grow food. Rethinking streets so that it’s not just about conveying traffic. Rethinking.
Taking personal steps to develop nature’s social capital is also helpful. Individuals should involve others when interacting with nature. Hiking, biking, bird-watching clubs,”fungi forays”, and nature guides can bridge the current gap between human and nature.
If you have more ideas for achieving “sustainable placemaking” or questions for our speaker, we would love to hear about them in the comments section.