Ecological Reading

[The New City? Photo published in Ecological Urbanism by Agnes Denes]

As the year winds down, I wanted to touch on two books – one that was released a few months ago and one to be launched… any minute- that may be of interest to our readers. The first is a recent publication from the GSD entitled ‘Ecological Urbanism’. Edited by Mohsen Mostafavi and Gareth Doherty, the book is essentially a tome that features both articles and projects that emerged/ presented at conference at the GSD in April of 2009. As the title implies, the book examines how the characteristics of ecologies – feedback loops, interdependence, shifting hierarchies, resilience, etc. can be used as a formal model for the design of the city (or metropolis).  While Geddes planted the seed for this discussion almost a century ago, the shear number of voices encapsulated in this book depicts both the current interest and sense of urgency with respect to the topic.

[Cover and Mega-Spine]

Mohsen’s article that begins the book essentially sets the foundations of the topic.  Moving between Guattari’s Three Ecologies, Branzi’s Weak Metropolis and Banham’s study on Los Angeles, Mohsen examines the political, economic and social ramifications of the Ecological Project. His text reads as an elaboration to his earlier piece “Landscapes of Urbanism” in the Manual put out by the AA in 2004, provoking the obvious question “What is the difference between Landscape Urbanism and Ecological Urbanism?” And while Mohsen does not answer this directly in his text, the implicit suggestion is that Ecological Urbanism is a model for the entire metropolis, whereas Landscape Urbanism - which originated in the brownfields of the rust belt of the US – typically operates within the drosscape produced by the contemporary metropolis. In that sense, the projects in the book do not seem afraid of form or necessarily position form in opposition to ecology.  

[Branzi -The Weak Metropolis/ An update on the CIAM Athens Charter]

Organized into sections ‘Anticipate’, ‘Collaborate’, ‘Sense’, ‘Curate’, ‘Produce’, ‘Interact’, “Mobilize’, ‘Measure’, ‘Adapt’, ‘Incubate’, etc. the table of contents reads as a generational ‘to-do’ list.  Within these sections, projects and articles range from the scale of the city to the design of the envelope.  As an ecological structure, it is refreshing to see the scalar indifference and the interconnected loops between building skins, form and the metropolis.  Those familiar with the topics of landscape and ecology may feel that some editing needed to occur in this book, which often seemingly loses focus of its title.  Simultaneously, however, it is a great introduction to the topic and a useful resource. I particularly enjoyed Charles Waldheim’s piece on Branzi’s Weak Metropolis and Pierre Bélanger’s Redefining Infrastructure.  I would suggest picking up a copy if you are interested on the current debates of this subject or want an introduction to new forms of urbanism.  

[AD / Eco Redux]

Now the second book that I am looking forward to (and have only seen glimpses of) is AD’s next issue entitled ‘Eco-Redux’ (edited by Lydia Kallipoliti).  The book builds on Kallipoliti’s research which can be seen on the Eco Redux website, and features other interesting articles/ projects by Anthony Vidler, Mark Wigley, Francois Roche, Alexandros Tsamis, Eva Franch Gilabert and Mitchell Joachim, among others.  The journal examines the radical projects from the 60s and 70s and current trajectories in Ecological Design.  What is of particular interest is the ‘Soft’ Project that emerged during this time period, which this issue of AD touches on (and will be elaborated on in Bracket 2).  More details on this issue of AD can be found here.

Add new comment



December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009