Realizing Natural Capital for a sustainable city or ecopolis: Urban systems are largely unplanned with only incidental (though crucial) relationships to the bioregions on which they are ultimately dependent.
Urbanisation is spreading across the face of the planet at an unprecedented rate. Most of it is opportunistic; ad hoc development and shanty towns rather than master plans. Virtually none of it, planned or otherwise, incorporates the elements of natural capital that are needed to create sustainable cities. Every time a new piece of urban fabric is created, or an existing piece is patched up and reworked, it may add to the value of the real estate but subtracts from the ecological health of the urban area. As each conurbation grows it diminishes the biological wealth of its region. Globally, the entire urban system trends towards becoming increasingly dysfunctional.
Paul Downton - Architect, Writer, Urban Evolutionary - explains cultural fractals and pocket neighbourhoods.
Culture is a living system of human relationships that expresses itself in language, arts, tool-making and social organisation, including politics and economics.
Urban fractals should include ecology: Design guidelines for non-human species. Each neighbourhood and precinct scale piece of the city should be an “urban fractal”, containing the essential characteristics that we want to see in the whole urban system, including nature, ecosystem services, and urban agriculture.
One can envisage that with each “pocket” within the neighbourhood containing both social and biologically productive or viable space the total socio-biological performance of the fractal would be enhanced.
Our cities need to be “greener”, incorporating and being incorporated by nature and ideally, operating within the framework and limitation of pre-industrial ecological systems. They need to greatly reduce (and ultimately help to heal) damage from global warming.
Overall, what’s needed is an approach that allows for individual initiative, creativity and diversity but ensures that all the individual initiatives are related to each other in ways that are practical and effective. So let a thousand fractal flowers bloom – and include all the bugs that make an ecosystem work.