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Ecopolis : Last hope for the Natural World

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Great stuff- reading it now. // It needs summarising here.



Eco-cities special: Ecopolis now

16 June 2006 ... Fred Pearce ... Magazine issue 2556


Forget the rural idyll - urban living may be the best way to save the planet, as New Scientist discovers

A HUNDRED years ago, the largest city in the world was London, with a population of 6.5 million. Today it is dwarfed by Tokyo. With barely a quarter the population of London a century ago, Japan's capital city has since mushroomed to 34 million, propelling it to pole position in the global city league table.


Tokyo's phenomenal growth is largely down to a single factor: migration from the countryside to the city. It is just one of many to have overtaken London, which with a population of 7.5 million today doesn't even make the top 20.


This rural to urban migration can now be seen in scores of cities across the globe. And it has brought us to a pivotal moment in human history. In 1900, most people lived in the countryside, with a little over 10 per cent of the world's population living in cities. ... From next year, the population of the globe will be living predominately in urban environments. We need to find a way to do so on a sustainable basis.


(The complete article is 3153 words long, from page 36)


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NOTES from the Article :


+ By 2007, most people (>50%) will be urbanities

+ There seems to be a ceiling of perhaps 16-18 million, for the size of a supercity. Perhaps after that it becomes too difficult to feed the spralling city

+ London needs 125 times its own area to provide the resources it consumes

.. Data: London's total eco-footprint is 125 times its surface area = 197,000 sq.km

.. whereas the potential productive service area of the entire UK is about 210,000 sq.km

+ Returning the world's poulation to the countryside is not an option, especially as energy prices cxontinue to rise, since rural living is not energy efficient, when the population requires a modern high tech lifestyle, with electrification, computers, modern communications, and multiple transport options

+ A NEW FORM OF CITY LIVING (ECOPOLIS), is the only option,

+ Governments, planners, architects, and engineers are beginning to wake up to this idea : and they are seeking new ways to "green the metropolis"



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Average for the globe: 1.8 hectares per person

- -

Americans......... : 9.7h

Shanghai........... : 7.0h

Rural China....... : 1.6h


CAR JOURNEYS : Private Transport energy per capita

- -


Houston............ : 65,000 Mn. Joules (eyeballed from chart)

Denver............. : 58,000 Mn

New York.......... : 48,000 Mn

Montreal........... : 29,000 Mn

Stockholm........ : 19,000 Mn

Copenhagen..... : 16,000 Mn

London............. : 12,000 Mn

Singapore......... : 10,500 Mn

Tokyo................ : 7,500 Mn

Hong kong......... : 4,000 Mn

Philippines......... : 3,000 Mn


Note : related to density: more dense, the less car journeys per capita

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Offered to buy it from the restaurant- they wouldn't sell, but did lend the maga.



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Ecocity links......... : http://www.gdrc.org/uem/links.html#ecocity

Ecopolis architects :

Sustainable ABC... : http://sustainableabc.com/

Urban Ecology...... : http://www.urbanecology.org.au/links/

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REVIEWED - on the web...


New Scientist — beguiling but error-prone

2006 06 27


As an advocate of Ecopolis for the best part of 2 decades I was pleased to see the idea given such a beguiling presentation in New Scientist of 17 June.


There has been a good deal of seminal work by far more people than Fred Pearce mentions, but he has done a fair job of bringing together most of the key issues that define an Ecopolis (and the front cover illustration was terrific!).


What I can’t understand is why he misrepresents Christopher Alexander as an advocate for inflexible cities that deny the value of neighbourhoods. Quite the opposite, Alexander and his cohorts have been responsible for some of the most influential work (notably A Pattern Language) in favour of the making of meaningful, workable neighbourhoods as part of empowering people to make and shape their urban environments. It is not “Alexander’s philosophy that has turned many cities…into social and ecological disaster areas”. The reasons for that are more to do with the workings of global capital and the interests of oil companies and the motor industry than any planning theory.


The accompanying editorial was right on the money. Along with others who have been battling away with these ideas, like my friend and colleague Richard Register of Ecocity Builders, I see the remaking of our cities as the key to making a future that enables us humans to deal with the challenges of a changing climate and ecological disruption and enjoy a prolonged tenure on this planet.


Integration of architecture, planning and ecology is essential to the development of truly viable ecological cities. The groundbreaking concept of cities as ecosystems was probably first presented by Boyden et al in their study on the city ecology of Hong Kong in the 1970s but was largely overlooked by planners. Perhaps it is not surprising that China is taking the initiative in trying to make ecological cities — although planners and architects in most countries are largely deprived of ecological education in China there has been a strong commitment to the development of urban ecology as a science and planning tool for some time, led by people like the indefatigable Dr Rusong Wang.


Incidentally, as a committed ‘ecopolitan’ architect I have always explained that New Scientist is my journal of choice because it contains real news and fresh ideas that are relevant to making ecological cities whereas in architectural journals such material is conspicuous by its absence.


I look forward to more great articles on the making of Ecopolis.


@: http://ecopolisnow.com/commentary/new-scie...ut-error-prone/


BLOG : http://www.ecopolisnow.com/


another : http://peakenergy.blogspot.com/2006/06/cit...are-future.html

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Below are excerpts from "EcoPolis," a fascinating article in New Scientist Magazine exploring what it will take to design and build eco-friendly cities in the 21st century as urban population growth explodes. Not surprisingly, much of the story focuses on the role of the automobile in the city. (Unfortunately, to read the entire article you have to pay a fee online or buy the magazine)


If we are to protect what is left of nature, and meet the demand to improve the quality of living for the world's developing nations, a new form of city living is the only option....


Fortunately, governments, planners, architects and engineers are beginning to wake up to this idea, and are dreaming up new ways to green the megacities. Their approaches rest on two main principles: recycle whatever possible, and cut car use to a minimum....


Unfortunately, for the past century most cities have been moving in the wrong direction. Planners have designed cities as if resources such as land, fuel and concrete were unlimited, and waste has been something to dump as cheaply and as distantly as possible. Worse, they designed cities around cars rather than people....


This generation of city builders "worshipped at the altar of the automotive god, and idealised mobility and freedom", says Peter Hall, professor of planning and regeneration at University College London....


Planners and architects now agree that to improve the social and environmental condition of cities the top priority is to cut car use. They say zero-emission cars running on electricity or burning hydrogen are not enough. "Automobiles still require massive networks of streets, freeways and parking structures to serve congested cities and far-flung suburbs," says

Richard Register, founder of the non-profit campaigning organisation EcoCity Builders in

Oakland, California....



What is needed is a wholesale rethink of how new cities are laid out - and how existing ones expand - to minimise the need for cars in the first place....


Take Dongtan, the eco-city planned for southern

China. Before a brick has been laid, Dongtan is being hailed as the most ambitious attempt yet at a "green city". The plan is for a car-free, zero-emission, recycling city of half a million people....


Deterring the car is also vital, says Don Shanfeng, the senior architect of the project. "Cars won't be banned, but driving will not be made easy." A single road will meander through the first phase of the cithy, with traffic lights that automatically switch to give priority to the planned hydrogen-fuelled buses...


Read the entire article here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19025561.600.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ecopolis (city) // From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


An Ecopolis is a large city that follows ecological principles. The word ecopolis is a portmanteau created from ecology (interactions between living organisms and the environment) and polis (a city state). It was used in a 1991 article by architect Paul F. Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Architects. The term was used more recently in a 2006 article by New Scientist.


An ecopolis can feed and power itself with minimal reliance on the surrounding countryside, and creates the smallest possible eco-footprint for its residents. This results in a city that is friendly to the surrounding environment, in terms of pollution, land use, and alleviation of global warming. It is estimated that by 2007, over half of the world’s population will live in urban areas and this provides both challenges and opportunities for environmentally-conscious developers.


Ecological cities can be achieved though various means, such as:


Small scale, private agriculture and agricultural plots in the city’s suburbs to reduce the distance food has to travel from field to fork.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, solar cells, or bio-gas created from sewage. Cities provide economies of scale that make such energy sources viable.


Various methods to reduce the need for air conditioning (a massive energy demand), such as low lying buildings that allow air to circulate, an increase in water features, and green spaces equaling at least 20% of the city's surface. This counters the environmental heating caused by factors such as an abundance of tarmac and asphalt, which can heat city areas by up to 6 degrees Celsius during the evening.


Improved public transport and an increase in pedestrianisation to reduce car emissions. This requires a radically different approach to city planning, with integrated business, industrial, and residential zones. Roads may be designed to make driving difficult.


Optimal building density to make public transport viable but avoid the creation of urban heat islands.

Few real life examples of ecopoleis exist. On a small scale, green buildings such as the Melbourne city council building in Australia produce much of their own energy supplies. Many shanty towns in the underdeveloped world already practice the principles of an ecopolis: efficient power use, recycling, private agriculture, and pedestrianisation. The planned development of Sociópolis in Valencia, Spain will provide low-rise affordable housing integrated into traditional agricultural zones and irrigation systems. Perhaps the most ambitious project is a planned extension in the Chongming district of Shanghai, referred to as Dongtan. Dongtan is being designed with the specific aim of minimizing the eco-footprint of its residents, and includes plans to become self-sufficient in energy and water production.


@: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecopolis_(city)

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  • 8 months later...


Adelaides Christie Walk development is an environmentally sympathetic mixed density community housing project.

Photo: Ecopolis Architects Pty Ltd.



People are continuing to move to the coast to live, and the cumulative impacts of this trend are now apparent in some coastal areas. If this trend continues, we risk further damaging the natural and cultural values and characteristics of the coastal environments that historically have made coastal living so attractive.


...more: http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/pub...y/progress.html

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Above: An illustration showing the potential daylighting of Strawberry Creek, creating a pedestrian environment on Center Street in Berkeley, California.



We are a non-profit organization dedicated to reshaping cities, towns and villages for long term health of human and natural systems. Our goals include returning healthy biodiversity to the heart of our cities, agriculture to gardens and the streets, and convenience and pleasure to walking, bicycling and transit. We visualize a future in which waterways in neighborhood environments and prosperous downtown centers are opened for curious children, fish, frogs and dragonflies. We work to build thriving neighborhood centers while reversing sprawl development, to build whole cities based on human needs and “access by proximity” rather than cities built in the current pattern of automobile driven


@: http://www.ecocitybuilders.org/


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Get ready to change the world!

Throughout Earth Day Week, April 22-26, 2008 in San Francisco, California, the Ecocity World Summit (7th International Ecocity Conference) will be convening an international community of inspired change-makers; courageous individuals who are addressing problems of the world's environment with thoughtful long-range solutions that are truly sustainable, ecologically healthy and socially just.


The International Ecocity Conference Series brings together the key innovators, decision makers, technologists, businesses and organizations shaping the conversation around ecological and sustainable city, town and village design, planning and development. We intend to put these issues on the economic and environmental agenda for 2008 and beyond.


@: http://www.ecocityworldsummit.org/


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Richard Register's Blog: http://ecocityviews.blogspot.com/

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