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Ecological Urbanism

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The popularity of the ecological urbanism concept may rely to some extent on those who have heard and may even fully apply the ecological message, but wish to disassociate themselves from the green movement. "The ecological urbanism project draws from ecology to inspire an urbanism that is more socially inclusive and sensitive to the environment, as well as less ideologically driven, than conventional “green” or sustainable urbanism." - original WP lead sentence.

The phrase was used by Wikipedia:Mohsen Mostafavi in 2007 in Intervention Architecture[1] and in a lecture at the Wikipedia:Canadian Centre for Architecture,[2] ecological urbanism as a project was largely started at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, with a conference, and exhibition, and book.[3]

In many ways, ecological urbanism is an evolution of, and a critique of, Landscape Urbanism arguing for a more holistic approach to the design and management of cities. The phrase appeared in April 2003 at a conference at the University of Oregon,[4] and again in 2006 in a paper by Jeffrey Hou.[5] Arguing for a "new ethics and aesthetics of the urban," the 656-page Ecological Urbanism book, edited by Mohsen Mostafavi with Gareth Doherty, was published in May 2010 by Lars Müller Publishers (ISBN: 978-3-03778-189-0).[6] The book follows the conference,[7] and exhibition, held at the GSD in 2009.[8][9][10] The book has a long list of contributors, including Rem Koolhaas, Homi K. Bhabha, Mitchell Joachim, Andrea Branzi, and about 130 others. A blog during the conference is part of the book.[11] According to Architecture Today, the book is "one of the few books that recognises and articulates how, if this systems-based approach is to be successful, it needs to design, integrate and express complex systems and social processes in ways that are fundamentally humane."[12] The book has been reviewed and cited in many publications, including [Metropolis Magazine],[13] The Journal of Landscape Architecture,[14] and Cities magazine.[15] Events and discussions on the book have been held at the 2010 Venice Biennale,[16] the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and at the Van Alen Institute in New York.[17]

In his introduction to the Ecological Urbanism, "Why Ecological Urbanism? Why Now?", extracted in Topos: The International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Mostafavi asks: "Increased numbers of people and cities go hand in hand with a greater exploitation of the world’s limited resources. Every year, more cities are feeling the devastating impacts of this situation. What are we to do? What means do we have as designers to address this challenging reality?[18]

Jeb Brugmann in his book Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World (Bloomsbury Press, 2009) says we need to become "masters of a stable, just, and ecological urbanism." For Brugman, "The first step towards ecological urbanism is increasing the energy and nutrient productivity within the city, but the only way to move sufficiently from extractive mode to a sustainable productive mode is to think, design, and develop at the scale of the City."[19]

There have been a number of recent conferences and lectures on the project of ecological urbanism, including: The New Aesthetics and Ecological Urbanism at Peking University in October 2010,[20] New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Spring Lecture Series: Ecological Urbanism: A Prospectus for the Super City, in October 2010.[21] The University of Washington’s urban initiative included a seminar on Now Urbanism[22] and talks "on Ecological Urbanism, Ecological Design for Healthy Cities, Networked Urbanism, and America’s War on Immigrants.”[23] Eco-Urbanism: towards sustainable city living, was hosted by Nottingham University at the Shanghai Expo in August 2010.[24]

In addition to courses at the GSD in 2008[25] and 2011,[26] there have been courses on ecological urbanism at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design,[27] and Yale University.[28] It is on numerous course syllabi, including Advanced Design Theories 2010 at Florida International University.[29]


  1. Aga Khan Award for Architecture (Organization) (27 November 2007). Intervention architecture: building for change, I.B.Tauris.
  3. Ecological Urbanism. Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.
  7. Ecological Urbanism: Alternative and Sustainable Cities of the Future. Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.
  12. Johar, Indy Review: Ecological Urbanism. Architecture Today. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.
  13. Pedersen, Martin The Green Vanguard: K is for Koolhaas. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.
  27. Current theories in urbanism - Eclological urbanism. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.
  28. Ecological Urbanism: New Approaches to Urban Ecology and City Planning. Yale School of Architecture. URL accessed on 22 December 2010.