Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
September, 2021

10 September 2021

Two Reflections: Thinking About Blackness, Ecology, and Architecture in the United States
Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie Brian McGrath, New York City

Read Brian McGrath’s reflection. Does architecture have a “color”? by Steward Pickett Does architecture have a “color”? In the United States, the answer seems to be yes. Architecture in the U.S. has been practiced largely by and for white people. Indeed, Glenn Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art...

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August, 2021

31 August 2021

Repenser la protection de la nature dans le contexte des Objectifs du Développement Durable
Rethinking Nature Protection in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals

Stéphanie Lux, Paris Elisabeth Chouraki, Paris Ingrid Coetzee, Cape Town

Read this in English. Repenser la protection de la nature dans le contexte des Objectifs du Développement Durable en articulant action locale et régionale avec les politiques nationales et internationales Un constat sans appel Sur la base des listes rouges produites par l’UICN, le Chief scientist de l’IUCN, Thomas Brooks...

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30 August 2021

Nature Fix for Healthy Cities: What Planners and Designers Need to Know for Planning Urban Nature with Health-benefits in Mind
Takemi Sugiyama, Melbourne Farahnaz Sharifi, Melbourne Zirui Yao, Canberra Prabhasri Herath, Canberra Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne

What the pandemic we live in revealed is something we knew, experienced, but had not well-evidenced at scale: nature in cities is fundamental for maintaining and regaining our physical and mental health. There is a broad literature on the benefits of green space for promoting physical activity and health, reducing...

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23 August 2021

Bat Reputation
Gitty Korsuize, Utrecht

Bats — “they live in the dark, they eat your blood, they fly in your hair, and they spread diseases like Ebola”. At least that is what stereotypes have painted them to be Most people do not know much about bats. Since COVID-19, the reputation of bats is even worse...

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17 August 2021

Auto-rewilding Birdlife Along the Bath River Line
Lincoln Garland, Bath

The River Avon Most visitors to the city of Bath in the West of England come to enjoy its grandiose Georgian crescents, terraces, and squares, and Roman-built baths, which have been beautifully crafted from the locally mined honey-colored oölitic limestone. Indeed, the city’s magnificent architecture and Roman remains have been...

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3 August 2021

Soul and the City: Re-Establishing our Relational Capacity Beyond COVID-19
Martina Artmann, Dresden Kathi Artmann, Nuremberg

Aren’t we living in crazy times? It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic may never end. Home office, covering our faces with masks and social distancing have suddenly become part of our daily routine. In the beginning of the first lockdown, the world outside seemed so near due to the various...

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July, 2021

19 July 2021

If Nature is the Answer to Climate Change, What are the Questions?
Rob Pirani, New York

Recently, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of “Restore Mother Nature”, an aggressive program for habitat restoration and flood reduction. “We must begin restoring the natural balance we disrupted,” said the Governor. “Mother Nature had a plan, she had resiliency built in. We are the ones who...

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June, 2021

25 June 2021

Greening the Recovery? A Proposal for Forwarding Urban Transitions as a Recovery Agenda Towards Resilience
Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne

As we are living in the second year of the pandemic. We are learning to adapt to new urban living, new ways of working—mostly remotely and at times in a blended way—and most of all, learn to reconnect to our urban places and spaces. Many local governments have put in...

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15 June 2021

Embracing Unexpected Six-Legged Commuters
Timothy Bonebrake, Hong Kong

 Every day I make the commute between my home in a rural-style village on an “outlying island” (Lamma Island) to the middle of the city in Hong Kong. Altogether the journey is about one hour one way and involves walking, a ferry, and a subway/MTR ride. A variety of things...

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May, 2021

31 May 2021

From Design to City Life: What It Takes to Bring Nature-based Solutions to Urban Reality
Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne Paula Vandergert, London Stuart Connop, London Karlijn Schipper, Rotterdam Iwona Zwierzchowska, Poznań Marcus Collier, Dublin Lodder Marleen, Rotterdam

Cities around the globe are seeing increased civic interest and appreciation of nature in the city. Pictures with citizens thronging to urban parks and urban waterfronts adhering to social distancing have flooded social media and traditional media alike in the past months. This appreciation and recognition of how important it...

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22 May 2021

Financer des villes plus vertes pour l’avenir que nous voulons
Financing Greener Cities for the Future We Want

Ingrid Coetzee, Cape Town Elisabeth Chouraki, Paris

(Read this in English.) Pour des infrastructures respectueuses de la nature Le monde s’urbanise rapidement, exposant nos ressources naturelles à une pression croissante pour répondre aux demandes en infrastructures, terres, eau, nourriture et autres besoins vitaux. Selon le département des affaires économiques et sociales des Nations unies (UN DESA), 55...

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18 May 2021

Mobilising Our Union for Ecological Urbanism
Russell Galt, Edinburgh

Things fall apart Standing at a crossroads, looking into the eye of a perfect storm, these are anxious days for humanity. The full social, humanitarian and economic fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic may have barely come to pass but it already makes the 2008-09 global financial crisis look like child’s...

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12 May 2021

Co-Creating Sustainability: Integration of Local Ecological Knowledge in Art Works
Baiba Pruse, Venice Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Eva Bubla, Budapest Iván Greco, Buenos Aires Ezequiel Filgueira Risso, Buenos Aires Lindsay Campbell, New York Jaime Jackson, Birmingham/West Midlands Julia Prakofjewa, Venice Rick Hall, Nottingham Lara Eva Bustamante, Buenos Aires Colin Meurk, Christchurch Nataliya Stryamets, Venice Andra Simanova, Riga Anna Varga, Pécs Cristina Flora, Venice

Art and activism have a great potential to communicate social-ecological messages, and to engage the public in exploring local ecological knowledge. Where and how local ecological knowledge (LEK) appear in urban environments through artwork? We are in a great position to be able to share the reflections of one of...

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5 May 2021

Tree Inequality Is Worse in the Suburbs
Rob McDonald, Washington, DC

Urban trees and their canopy cover provide many benefits for urban residents, reducing air pollutant concentrations, mitigating stormwater runoff, maintaining water quality, encouraging physical recreation, and improving mental health. But just as urban ecologists are quantifying more and more benefits of urban trees for health, other research increasingly shows that...

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April, 2021

29 April 2021

Documenting the Pandemic Year: Reflecting Backward, Looking Forward
Lindsay Campbell, New York Michelle Johnson, New York City Sophie Plitt, New York Laura Landau, New York Erika Svendsen, New York

This essay is part four in a series. Since 13 March 2020, our team of social science researchers has been keeping a collective journal of our experiences of our New York City neighborhoods, public green spaces, and environmental stewardship during COVID-19. Read the essays from spring, summer, and fall here....

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21 April 2021

A Walk in the Park? Re-imagining Urban Environmental Conservation during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Kaja Aagaard, Middlebury Mika Mei Jia Tan, Los Baños Jennifer Rae Pierce, Vancouver

The COVID-19 pandemic has established a moment of immense global loss. In the midst of this public health crisis, our concerns for our families and communities necessarily take priority. Yet, addressing these concerns demands a look towards the future: to the reevaluation of global systems that may produce or obstruct...

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9 April 2021

Is Cali the City with the Most Birds in the World?
Rubén Darío Palacio, Durham

The city of Cali in southwestern Colombia boasts a staggering number of 562 species of birds, and it probably has the longest bird list for any city in the world. But can we find out for sure? Birds are the link between the urban and the wild. A bird-friendly city can harbor...

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March, 2021

24 March 2021

Putting Nature First: Driving Actions for Nature in Cities
Niki Frantzeskaki, Melbourne Cathy Oke, Melbourne Judy Bush, Melbourne Sarah Bekessy, Melbourne James Fitzsimons, Melbourne Georgia Garrard, Melbourne Maree Grenfell, Melbourne Martin Hartigan, Melbourne

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how important urban nature is for our physical and mental health. As urban strategists embark on ideas and think of pathways for recovery and “building back better” our societies and especially cities, it is paramount that the green recovery include nature in the mix of options...

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20 March 2021

Vegetation is the Future of Architecture
Gary Grant, London

Most of the inhabitable regions of the Earth were originally covered by forests, grasslands, and wetlands. These carbon-grabbing, biodiverse, spongy landscapes have been largely replaced by agriculture and urban development, which is drier, belches carbon, is erosive of soils, and which has lost most of its wildlife. Indeed, biodiversity declines...

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12 March 2021

Knowledge Systems for Urban Renewal
Chris Ives, Nottingham

“Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for us: ‘What shall we do and how shall we live?’ ” — Leo Tolstoy  We know that our cities need to look and function differently. There is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that urbanisation...

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