Cities and nature are often thought of as separate entities when thinking about the environment and the climate crisis. It’s time to change that thinking, according to an Australian architecture expert.
With cities responsible for over 75% of greenhouse gas emissions, designing smart and sustainable cities is the single most pressing challenge in confronting climate change, said Adrian McGregor, founder and chief design officer at McGregor Coxall, an urban design, landscape architecture and environment firm located in Australia and the UK. To decarbonize our cities, we must first realize that cities are “spectacular living, dynamic systems that evolve with us.”
He argues that to do this, cities should be reclassified as a form of “novel nature,” or a human-modified biome. City officials should even consider replacing the word “city” with “biocity” in planning documents.
“If we can understand that cities are part of nature — even if they don’t really look like nature — that means we’ve got to change how we plan with them, how we work with them, and what our future looks like on spaceship Earth,” said McGregor, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Canberra.
His new book, Biourbanism: Cities as Nature, lays out a pathway for cities to decarbonize and increase their resilience to the climate crisis using the Biourbanism urban planning and design model. The concept of Biourbanism, as explained by the International Society of Biourbanism, “focuses on the urban organism, considering it as a hypercomplex system, according to its internal and external dynamics and their mutual interactions.”