Mexico City, before the Spanish invaders came, was a floating city with 4-storey constructions built on rafts of living vegetation and had about 50,000 population, a nice population target for restructured, low-energy metropolis. -Andrew McKillop
Permanently increasing oil prices and at some point, the inability to obtain fossil fuels at any price will make much of our urban landscape more or less untenable. Politics and the economy will have to become more locally-organized. Since peak oil has to do with the amount of energy available to run virtually every system important to civilization, every sector of local society, economy, and culture will be affected in one way or another.
In a post-industrial world, there would still be cities, although they would be much smaller than those of today. They might resemble the cities of Renaissance Europe. Florence, for example, at the height of it cultural ascendancy, had only 35 to 45 thousand inhabitants.
A sustainable city, ecocity or ecopolis is an entire city dedicated to minimizing the required inputs (energy, water and food) and its waste output (heat, air pollution as co2, methane, and water pollution). Richard Register first coined the term "ecocity" in his 1987 book, Ecocity Berkeley: Building cities for a healthy future. Another leading figure who envisioned the sustainable city was architect Paul F. Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Architects.
Vedic literatures make mention of many beautiful cities in ancient India, like Mathura and Dwaraka which were full of gardens and artificial ponds.
A sustainable city can feed and power itself with minimal reliance on the surrounding countryside and creates the smallest possible ecological footprint for its residents. This results in a city that is friendly to the surrounding environment in terms of pollution, land use, and alleviation of global warming. It is estimated that by 2017, over half of the world’s population will live in urban areas and this provides both challenges and opportunities for environmentally-conscious developers.
Methodology These ecological cities can be achieved though various means, such as:
-Different agricultural systems such as agricultural plots within the city (suburbs or centre). This is to reduce the distance food has to travel from field to fork. Practical work out of this may be done by either small scale/private farming plots or through larger scale agriculture (eg farmscrapers).
-Renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, solar panels, or bio-gas created from sewage. Cities provide economies of scale that make such energy sources viable.
-Various methods to reduce the need for air conditioning (a massive energy demand), such as low lying buildings that allow air to circulate, natural ventilation systems, an increase in water features and green spaces equaling at least 20% of the city's surface. This counters the environmental heating caused by factors such as an abundance of concrete and asphalt, which can heat city areas by up to 10 degrees Celsius during the evening.
-Improved public transport and an increase in pedestrianisation to reduce car emissions. This requires a radically different approach to city planning, with integrated business, industrial, and residential zones. Roads may be designed to make driving difficult. Such induced walking would improve people’s health and help preserve gas.
-Optimal building density to make public transport viable but avoid the creation of urban heat islands.
-Solutions to decrease urban sprawl, by seeking new ways of to allow people to live closer to the workspace. Since the workplace tends to be in the city, downtown, or urban center, they are seeking a way to increase density by changing the antiquated attitudes many suburbanites have towards inner-city areas. One of the new ways is on how this is achieved is by solutions worked out by the Smart Growth Movement.
-Sustainable urban drainage systems or SUDS
-Xeriscaping - garden and landscape design for water conservation
Moratorium On Sprawl
A permanent moratorium on all new major road construction and expansions. Every additional dollar spent building and widening roads digs us deeper into our dangerous oil / auto addiction, and increases global warming.
Trains are by far the most energy efficient form of transportation that greatly reduces global warming, saves lives, and encourages compact, walkable communities.
3. A permanent moratorium on the building of any additional sprawl. Sprawl is probably the single largest contributor to oil addiction and global warming due to it's very design (or lack of). Sprawl forces everyone to drive many miles daily for everything, which in turn requires constant road expansions, encouraging more cars and driving, and more sprawl. Its a vicious cycle consuming ever more oil, and spewing out more pollution, making global warming continually worse.
New Urbanism New Urbanism movement promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities. These contain housing, work places, shops, entertainment, schools, parks and civic facilities essential to the daily lives of the residents, all within easy walking distance of each other. New Urbanism promotes the increased use of trains and light rail, instead of more highways and roads. Urban living is rapidly becoming the new hip and modern way to live for people of all ages. Currently, there are over 4,000 New Urbanist projects planned or under construction in the United States alone, half of which are in historic urban centers.
It is an international movement to reform the design of the built environment, and is about raising our quality of life and standard of living by creating better places to live. New Urbanism is the revival of our lost art of place-making, and is essentially a re-ordering of the built environment into the form of complete cities, towns, villages, and neighborhoods - the way communities have been built for centuries around the world. New Urbanism involves fixing and infilling cities, as well as the creation of compact new towns and villages.
The Principles Of New Urbanism The principles of New Urbanism can be applied increasingly to projects at the full range of scales from a single building to an entire community.
-Most things within a 10-minute walk of home and work -Pedestrian friendly street design (buildings close to street; porches, windows & doors; tree-lined streets; on-street parking; hidden parking lots; garages in rear lane; narrow, slow speed streets) -Pedestrian streets free of cars in special cases
-Interconnected street grid network disperses traffic & eases walking -A hierarchy of narrow streets, boulevards, and alleys -High quality pedestrian network and public realm makes walking pleasurable
3. Mixed-Use & Diversity
-A mix of shops, offices, apartments, and homes on site. Mixed-use within neighborhoods, within blocks, and within buildings -Diversity of people - of ages, income levels, cultures, and races 4. Mixed Housing
A range of types, sizes and prices in closer proximity
5. Quality Architecture & Urban Design
Emphasis on beauty, aesthetics, human comfort, and creating a sense of place; Special placement of civic uses and sites within community. Human scale architecture & beautiful surroundings nourish the human spirit.
6.Traditional Neighborhood Structure
-Discernible center and edge -Public space at center -Importance of quality public realm; public open space designed as civic art -Transect planning: Highest densities at town center; progressively less dense towards the edge.
7. Smart Transportation
-Pedestrian-friendly design that encourages a greater use of bicycles, scooters, and walking as means of daily transportation
-Minimal environmental impact of development and its operations -Eco-friendly technologies, respect for ecology and value of natural systems -Energy efficiency -Less use of finite fuels -More local production
Gita-Nagari - The City of the Bhagavad-gita. As early as 1948, in an unpublished essay entitled Interpretations of Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada outlined a vision for a city-sized, self-sufficient community based on the spiritual teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. He called the planned community Gita-Nagari, ‘the city of the Bhagavad-gita.’
This concept city features an emphasis on spiritual values and cultivation of nonmaterial sources of happiness, a God-centered cosmology, cow protection and ox power, and a spiritually oriented vegetarian diet and division of society according to the principles of varnashrama.