Published: June 1, 2014
Publisher: Emergent Urbanism: Urban Planning & Design in Times of Systemic and Structural Change

The Environmental Paradox of Cities, Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism

The City Council, as you can well imagine, swallowed this line whole. Who wouldn’t? Landscape is good; building is landscape; therefore building is good. One hears this three-car train of logic constantly in architectural discourse today…Nothing sells like landscape. It’s our sex” (Heymann, 2011). “If you love nature, live in the city” (Glaeser, 2011). As the first quote above suggests, the proponents of Landscape Urbanism have been winning design competitions and commissions, as well as gaining professional and academic acclaim. Closely associated with hallowed ecological values, it has been given a wide berth in the media and public process. However, it has received limited analysis and criticism in the professional and academic worlds. New Urbanism, on the other hand, is an older and more organized movement whose agenda has been repeatedly dissected and critiqued. A critical comparison of the two is illuminating and timely in an era of increasing ecological degradation and climate disruption, as well as of rapid urbanization. Before comparing the two, the environmental merits and demerits of urbanism in general will be discussed.


Douglas Kelbaugh