LIVEABLE CITIES; THE ART OF INTERGRATING TODAY WHAT WE NEED TOMORROW
by Herbert Dreiseitl
In much of the world today, space in cities is scarce. With growing populations and new demands for
workspace, production, mobility, and recreation, cities are fighting for shrinking land resources. The losers in
this battle for urban space are foremost the soft and unspoken voices with smaller budgets: protagonists of
green spaces, common ground, and the environment.
Inflexible urban structures and missing connectivities cannot cope with the dynamic forces of change, the
almost unpredictable rhythms of the environment, and the socio-economic and political trends that affect
society. The nature of change is itself changing.
What could be a model for future cities? Nature might have some of the answers. Comparing structures in
the natural environment with those in urban settings, a significant difference can be seen. Nature works on
principles of flexibility and resilience, a dynamic reaction and balance to any event, from a soft change to the
unexpected disaster. Given the enormous impact of, say, a flood on soils, hurricanes on forests, and avalanches
or volcanoes on mountains and hillsides, it is incredible how quickly ecosystems adapt to new conditions.
Over time, one hardly recognises the impact of the disaster; only experts with domain knowledge can tell the
difference. This flexible and dynamic response of ecosystems is unique, and some lessons can be learnt from
this in the design of urban settings.
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