Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

City as Ecosystem: New Models for Sustainable Cities and Landscapes

23.02.2010
As engineers and energy companies develop plans for alternative energy production that will allow humans to continue to pursue otherwise unsustainable consumption patterns, Steve Luoni attacks the problem of limited resources from a radically different angle.

Emphasizing the city as ecology, or ecosystem, Luoni and his colleagues in the University of Arkansas Community Design Center lead the movement toward intelligent design of urban landscapes that will reduce energy consumption and limit man’s impact on the environment.

Luoni, professor of architecture and director of the center, will present the main principles of this movement at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Diego. He will participate in the panel Urban Design and Energy Demand: Transforming Cities for an Eco-Energy Future.

Luoni focuses on six design models that demonstrate the essentials of what he calls recombinant ecologies, which are urban centers and landscapes that feature:

• Watershed urbanism, or a “re-wilding” of rivers and creeks
• Context-sensitive highway design
• Green and shared streets
• Transit-oriented development
• Urban forestry and, perhaps most importantly
• Low-impact development.
“Recombinant ecologies offer new forms of energy management requiring less fossil fuels by recombining social and environmental measures into economic development,” Luoni says. “They solve problems through biological and urban patterns simultaneously. Their design promotes self-organization, emergence, resilience and productive forms of feedback between environment and the city. Done properly, recombinant ecologies manage natural capital in the delivery of environmental and urban services.”

Exactly how does one solve modern urban problems – nonpoint-source pollution, poor flood control and water quality, erosion and climate disturbance, for example – through biological patterns? In Campus Hydroscapes, a 2,000-foot watershed regeneration project for College Branch on the University of Arkansas campus, Luoni and his colleagues propose restoring ecological functions to an urban stream that cuts through the university’s athletic complex.

While massive structures, such as the university’s football stadium and basketball arena, cannot be moved, the design team proposes “re-wilding” exposed sections of the creek by re-introducing native trees and plants to stabilize creek banks. They also will incorporate nature’s riffle-glide-pool channel design to better control erosion and restore the broader flood plain, including parking areas with permeable surfaces, to mitigate flooding and allow nature to treat pollutants and other chemicals on site. The plan also includes a park and recreational areas along the riparian corridor.

The concept for Campus Hydroscapes exemplifies what urban designers and ecologists call watershed urbanism. Based on ecological science, watershed urbanism proposes restoring ecological functions, such as erosion control, waste treatment and carbon sequestration, in riparian areas while forming urban networks of linear parks, neighborhood open spaces and pedestrian facilities.

With assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency, ecological engineering professor Marty Matlock and McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc., a local firm, Luoni’s team is also working on Porchscapes, a 43-unit, affordable neighborhood development on an 8-acre site in southeast Fayetteville. The project is an example of low-impact development, a type of residential or commercial development in which the design of streets and storm-water systems are modeled after nature to manage rainfall locally through a vegetated treatment network that keeps water on site.

In contrast to conventional infrastructure that simply transports runoff to a single point through pipes, catchment basins, curbs and gutters and thus offers no ecological services beyond detention and storage, low-impact development sustains a site’s predevelopment, hydrologic state by using techniques that infiltrate, filter, store and evaporate storm-water runoff. This is accomplished through a contiguous network of sediment filters, tree box filters, rainwater gardens, bioswales, infiltration basins and wet meadows.

In Visioning Rail Transit in Northwest Arkansas: Lifestyles and Ecologies, the center’s study advocating political and grassroots support for construction of a light rail system, Luoni argues that northwest Arkansas could be a national model of smart growth if the region would progressively shape its expansion based on transit-oriented development rather than chasing expansion retroactively by building streets to reach new developments on the margins of its various communities. Luoni emphasizes that the geographical location and growth patterns of the region’s cities are ideal for light-rail transit.

He isn’t the first planner to emphasize that only fixed guide-way systems, such as subways and light rail, prompt developers to build walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Such systems optimize a region’s transportation efficiency, generate downtown revitalization, decrease land and energy consumption and facilitate neighborhood-based commerce beyond the suburban big box retail center.

“A transportation system that includes rail provides more transit options,” Luoni says. “It increases access for transit-challenged populations while reducing congestion and individual transportation costs.”

Light rail systems concentrate populations, which relieves the stress of being forced to come up with more or different energy sources, Luoni says. These systems function most efficiently as peak-demand transportation systems. Automobiles and buses, as transportation modes, distribute populations and do not create economic and social benefits.

“Viewing and designing the city as an ecosystem will facilitate lower energy and land consumption through novel solutions that leverage social creativity and a sense of place,” says Luoni, who holds the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies.

See the work of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, a unit of the Fay Jones School of Architecture, at the design center’s Web site.

Stephen Luoni, director, Community Design Center
Fay Jones School of Architecture
479-575-5772, sluoni@uark.edu
Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246 or 479-422-3681, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Matt McGowan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Flexible protection for "smart" building and façade components
30.11.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC

nachricht Healthy living without damp and mold
16.11.2016 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>