Ecological paradigm of cities in post-Brundtland era: challenges of conserving historic urban landscapes as living cities

  • Harsha Munasinghe 146 Kendal Ave., Room E 220, P.O. Box 1015, Station B, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
Keywords: ecological paradigm; Eco-city; cultural-planning; liveability; Anuradhapura


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.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Harsha Munasinghe, 146 Kendal Ave., Room E 220, P.O. Box 1015, Station B, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,

MSc (Arch), M Arch (Urban Design), PhD, Professor of the School of Architectural Studies


Berleant, Arnold (2000). ‘The Wilderness City: An Essay on Metaphorical Experience’ in Place and location Kaija Lehari & Virve Sarpik (eds.), Tallinn: Academy of Arts.

Edmonson, Susey (2008). Ten Tips for Producing top quality research, Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

Ellawela, H. (1969). Social History of Early Ceylon, Colombo: Department of Cultural Affairs.

Evans, Gaeme (2001), Cultural Planning: An Urban Renaissance, London & New York: Routledge.

Greed, Clara H. (ed.) (1999). Social Town Planning, London & New York: Routledge.

Habermas, Jurgen (1987). The Theory of Communicative Action: The Critique of Functionalist Reason, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Harvey, David (2000). Spaces of Hope Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Jensen-Verbeke (1995). ‘Involving People’ in Historic Cities and Sustainable Tourism, Conference proceedings, Bath pp. 39-51.

Larice, Michael, and MacDonald, Elizabeth (eds.) (2007). The Urban Design Reader, New York: Routlegde.

Lefebvre, Henry (1996). Writing on Cities, trans. & ed. by Eleonore Kofman & Elizabeth Lebas, Oxford: Blackwell.

Mumford, Lewis (1938). The Culture of Cities, New York: Harcourt Brace.

Munasinghe, Harsha (1991). Transformation of Colonial Urban Space in Sri Lanka, Helsinki: Helsinki University of Technology.

Munasinghe, Harsha (2001). Aesthetics of Urban Space through Collaborative Urban Planning’ in Built Environment 3/01.

Munasinghe, Harsha (2004). ‘Ecological Housing in Helsinki: Case study of Viikki’, Sri Lanka Architect, Journal of Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, 4/2004.

PLACE 3 (1997). Centre for Excellence for Sustainable Development, US Department of Energy.

Scott, A. (2000). The Cultural Economy of Cities, London: Sage.

Sennette, Richard (1994). Flesh and Stone: The Body and The City in Western Civilization, New York: Norton.

Thompson, John B. (1970). Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the era of Mass Communication, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Wijedasa, K.H.J. (1994). Towards Sustainable Growth: The Sri Lanka Experience, Colombo: Central Environmental Authority.

How to Cite
Munasinghe, H. (2018). Ecological paradigm of cities in post-Brundtland era: challenges of conserving historic urban landscapes as living cities. Human Geography Journal, 24, 21-30.
Горизонти науки