Ecological paradigm of cities in post-Brundtland era: challenges of conserving historic urban landscapes as living cities
Sustainability has been a pressing, complex, and challenging agenda for urbanists. Its focus turns on wider issues of environment and societies thus broadening the concept defined in the Brundtland report. Eco-city, ecological footprint, green building and cultural planning are among significant initiatives resulted by the reincarnation of sustainable development of Brundtland report. Undoubtedly, nature plays a huge role in defining place-legibility but its perception by inhabitants plays a much bigger role in sustaining that place. Having tested types of cohabitations of nature and culture, we have made attempts to emphasize the significance of society in interpreting place-legibility for sustainable development. The first administrative capital of Sri Lanka, the World Heritage City of Anuradhapura was built as a political cum religious polis. The legibility of this city is shaped by its location, evolved hydraulic civilization and values placed subsequently. The protection of the city centre as a dead monument, focusing on one cultural layer, undermines its multicultural making. This conversion of a multicultural place into a mono-cultural space has depleted its liveability, and as such is not sustainable. Having found how those forced values have challenged city’s liveability, we used eco-city planning and cultural planning to restore the liveability of city’s Royal Park. Qualitative research methods were used for field surveys and modest design charrettes were used to test our proposals. Our restoration plan, based on socio-culturally defined eco-city concept, not only strengthened city’s sustainability but also prepared the grounds for an eco-society.
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