A review of Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs, by Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley. 2015. ISBN: 9781610913393. Island Press, Washington. 280 pages.
This book has an unashamedly strong emphasis on the city of Vancouver as a model—a city that has taken a leadership role. “Hundreds of thousands” of people involved in designing the overall plan, as well as area plans for its inner city, with the city government facilitating “a widely supported vision.” Whilst understandably proud of Vancouver’s achievements, the authors are not blind to its problems and acknowledge that the city “still has big sustainability and livability issues.” This awareness is a strength of the perspective offered in this book.
Barnett and Beasley provide a considered and well-articulated description of the problems of modernist zoning that have done so much to destroy the best qualities of urbanism, allied with articulate descriptions of solutions to urban development that are now a well-nigh universal litany (though still observed more in the breach than in substance, thanks to the massive momentum of the motorised modernist miasma).
The book’s six chapters build on four themes:
- Adapting to climate change
- Balancing transportation modes
- Replacing outmoded regulations and incentives
- Reshaping the public domain
Although this is not primarily a theoretical tome, the authors begin by considering the basic axioms, philosophy and ethics of ecodesign before concentrating on describing practical measures, where particular regulatory arrangements or design solutions have been shown to be effective.
- The six axioms they set out are:
Embrace and manage complexity.
Make population and economic growth sustainable.
Adopt interdisciplinary practice.
Always require public involvement.
Respect natural and built environments.
Draw upon many design methods.
–(2016) by Paul Downton for The Nature of Cities.
NewTerrain February 15, 2016.