Thus far in our development of urban environments, the focus has been on the creation of asphalt and concrete monuments with an emphasis on the movement of vehicles. To make the urban environment more productive for human habitation and more biologically diverse, we need to make quite a few changes (all of which I will discuss in more detail in future posts):
- The reintroduction of natural areas into the urban environment which can serve to increase passive food production, decrease temperatures, and increase water infiltration to bring back the natural function of the water cycle.
- The decentralization of infrastructure which will reduce transmission wastes and energy involved in moving water, sewer, etc.
- The fragmentation of the urban area into walkable neighborhoods which contain all necessary services for residents, and the connection of these areas with high frequency and reliable public transit. This aspect is especially important because not only does it increase options for transportation, but it also will help to reintroduce a sense of community which is one of the most tragic things lost from our urban areas in the last half century.
Architects are in a special position to help create this change because of the breadth of education received and the high number of collaborative opportunities available through our regular daily interactions. As architects we need to ensure that we take advantage of these opportunities and push ourselves to contribute to areas outside of design. We need to be instrumental in the formulation of policy and codes, the implementation of climate and energy action plans, the study of sociological and psychological phenomenon relating to our built environment, and the enhancement of natural systems through working with rather than against our environmental constraints.