Ecological infrastructure as a tool for smart preservation and smart growth. The negative approach

Author(s): Kongjian Yu, Hailong Li, Dihua Li

Abstract / Introduction (download full article at the bottom)

The conventional planning approach is failing to meet the challenges of swift urbanization and sustainability in China, because of its focus on economic centered urban development and population growth projections and its use of civil infrastructure design to shape development. We propose a “negative approach” for planning which defines an urban growth pattern and urban form through the identification and planning of ecological infrastructure. The negative approach has its roots in landscape urbanism and has evolved from the pre-scientific model of Feng-shui as the backbone of human settlement. It is also derived from the 19th century notion of greenways as recreational infrastructure, the early 20th century idea of green belts as urban form makers, and the late 20th century notion of ecological networks and the former concept of Ecological Infrastructure (EI) as a framework in the biological preservation field. Our definition of EI is thus composed of critical landscape structures that are strategically identified and planned to safeguard the various natural, biological, cultural and recreational processes across the landscape, securing natural assets and ecosystems services, essential for sustaining human society. In the negative approach to planning we re-purpose EI from an ecological preservation activity to that of the determinate factor in city planning. EI functions as an effective tool for smart growth in the context of rapid urbanization, and it defines the scale, context and configuration of future urban development patterns. EI is strategically planned and developed using less land but more efficiently preserving the ecosystems services. Using Taizhou City as a case study, this paper demonstrates how the negative approach uses EI as a tool to guide and frame sustainable urban development.

Publication: ISOCARP Review 11, pp. 228-241
Year: 2015
Editors: Shi Nan, Jim Reilly, Fran Klass
Coordinator: Lucian Perici
Graphic Designer: Ricardo Moura
ISBN 978-94-90354-42-8

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