Strategies of Ecosystem Development

Source i09: Photos of Shanghai's cityscape, with a 26 year gap. Read more about it here. Truly remarkable.

Source i09: Photos of Shanghai’s cityscape, with a 26 year gap. Read more about it here. Truly remarkable.

The amazing image above shows how much can happen in a city over 26 years. We know cities are growing at amazing rates, but these images are poor at capturing any tensions of over stretched infrastructure that struggles to keep pace. Slow development is never desirable in urban growth, but it is hard not to see dystopic visuals of urban decay as the cities struggle to pay their own environmental bills.

Conversations about ecosystem development as a strategy for solving human environmental crises are clearly not new. In a paper from 1969 recently sent to me by Bruce Hinds there is a rich account of the previous thinking and inspiration that has as of yet translated into human innovation. Some of the language and concepts in the paper are clearly out of date, as most of the resilience theory work and C.S. Hollings was not yet integrated, but at the core there are some really key concepts.

Core Trends of Ecosystem Succession

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An Evolving Understanding of Urban Ecology

Presentation for the Urban Ecologies Conference in Toronto

Presentation for the Urban Ecologies Conference in Toronto

At the Urban Ecologies conference in Toronto on June 20 – 21, I presented with Bruce Hinds and Ian Clarke on Information and Complexity in Urban Ecology.

Sponsored by Autodesk, our research has focussed on biology and ecology as sources of inspiration for building science. As software becomes increasingly sophisticated in gathering and processing data, there is tension on how this will influence the design and management of buildings. If any information can be collected, what should be collected, and what is the purpose?

In our short review presentation we outlined our own evolution of inspiration and how we see it impacting the built environment.

Learning from specific organisms has been the base line for most of the practices of sustainability and biomimicry.

Learning from specific organisms has been the base line for most of the practices of sustainability and biomimicry.

Organism – Barrel Cactus

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Urban Ecologies Conference in Toronto

Urban Ecologies 2013
June has totally snuck up on me, so sincere apologies for not sharing this sooner, but there is an excellent Urban Ecologies conference in Toronto this summer at OCAD University from June 20 – 21st.

In the topic of Regenerating Cities, I will be doing a presentation with Bruce Hinds and Ian Clarke, and running a workshop with Bruce Hinds and Jamie Miller. Key topics being explored are homeostasis and resilience as goals for the built environment, with the workshop focusing on the skin of the city. I’ve included the proposals below, and while there may be some changes, especially considering the presentation and workshops are far to brief to cover everything we hoped, I think it gives you a heads up into the research we have been doing.

All research was supported by Autodesk who supported Bruce and I and our students to really experiment with ideas around the built environment. I’ll be sharing more in the future, so stay tuned.

Let me know if you have any questions – hope to see some of you in Toronto – or maybe there are opportunities to play with some of these ideas elsewhere in the world? Let me know!

Workshop Proposal (Accepted):

Skin Deep – Adaptive Capacity, Surfaces and the City

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Brickworks Evergreen – Urban Ecology

Photo setting the scene of the brickworks, found on the City of Toronto Website.

Yesterday I was on the discussion panel for a quick chat after the screening of two films; “Second Nature”, and “Brick by Brick”. I say quick, because ultimately I may have said two things, which is extraordinarily rare for me. But I did make a couple of connections that will hopefully lead to some interesting opportunities.

The second movie; “Brick by Brick” traced the history and inception of the Brickworks in Toronto by Evergreen, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing nature into the city. I was aware of the project, but now that I am equipped with more information, I recognize how important and valuable this project is.

Integrating nature into the industrial

From the EBW Blog: This fallen cottonwood tree bears evidence of what may be lurking in the ponds of the Weston Family Quarry Garden. Photo: Andrew Simpson. Co-habitation? Wonder how they'll ultimately feel about the Beaver munching on their freshly installed trees?

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