Cities are the cradles of human civilization; they represent humanity's constant progress and development. The world is today predominantly urban ,the UN Habitat report on the state of the world cities 2008-2009 states that in the next two decades nearly 60% percent of the world will reside in cities, with cities in the developing world in Asia and Africa growing at the rate of almost 5 million new inhabitants each month. The rapid and unprecedented growth of our cities has raised many questions about the quality of life in our cities and the future of our threatened planet. Cities are in a constant state of flux, they are composed of parts that are constantly being born anew while other parts of a city decay and die out. Cities soar on the crest of the economic growth of a society as well as its scientific and technological progress, while they establish themselves as icons of its nationalistic culture, The Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC 2007) in its landmark report has concluded that converting the present model of resource devouring, energy hungry and crime ridden cities into harmonious sustainable cities can go a long way in mitigating the effects of climate change, hence there is an urgent need to examine the case for sustainable urban development strategies that can help mitigate the crisis of the urban explosion.
Concept of Ecocities
The concept of Eco cities originated a couple of decades ago,1975 to be precise with the pioneering work of Richard register and his ideas for Berkeley as expressed by his organisation Urban ecology( Mark Roseland, Dimensions of the Ecocity).Mark Roseland in his paper argues that though the term eco city was propounded by Register the idea itself was not new to urban planning and is based on a number of earlier spatial planning models starting from Garden city of Ebenezer Howard and the later theories of Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford, Ian Mc Harg, Christopher Alexander and others through the course of the twentieth century.
The Rapid globalization and the economic boom of the past two decades coupled with the imminent threat of climate change has brought the idea of eco cities to the centre stage once again with a number of new projects claiming to be the ultimate solution for the fast urbanising world. China, the worlds emerging economic giant took the lead in espousing the cause of eco-cities with plans for a number of new eco city developments to make its booming cities more sustainable .However the concept of Ecocities is still not clear with some of these landmark project struck in delays and even in danger of being given a premature burial, with the Dongtan eco city in Shanghai being a case in point. Dongtan eco city on Chongming Island along the coast of Shanghai was conceived to be the new solution to the environmental and social problems of the growing urban regions of China. It was heralded as the ideal and sustainable model for the rest of China and indeed the entire world to follow, however the proposed eco city at Dongtan has been plagued by a number of problems ranging from corruption to lack of clarity in the planning and implementation stages and the project is proving to be a stillborn prodigal, raising critical doubts over its future. The same is true of many other eco city projects across the world. The rise of an eco city movement all over the world has raised many questions about their viability, veracity and relevance within the larger sphere of sustainable urban development. The very concept of an eco city, though exciting is still very fuzzy with many differing approaches calling themselves eco cities. It is this context that this paper aims to answer some of the pertinent questions regarding eco city planning by reviewing the literature and critical evaluation of theories relating to eco city planning. The purpose of this study is to determine the key factors that affect the principles and of an eco-city.
Scope and Objectives
- Identify the salient features of eco city planning and define the term eco city-
- Evaluate critically the various planning principles and parameters associated with eco city planning.
- Explore models and approaches suggested by academics and professionals
- Formulate a research hypothesis that helps in understanding the planning principles associated with eco cities.
The study is interesting because while the concept of an eco-city is has been contemplated and articulated upon for years, it still remains vague and undefined, As a urban planning strategy the concept has the potential to dramatically alter the cityscapes of the world and our long held views on nature, cities and ecological balance. (Jesse Fox, http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/dongtan-ecocity-modern-shangri-la.php)In today's condition, cities need certain forms of sustainable practices to minimize negative impact to the environment, making the concept 'inevitable'. Sustainable cities are no more than an 'oxymoron', a 'utopian' concept. [LURTON BLASSINGAME*]Cities are not sustainable as they will always depend on outer sources for the flow of resources. The challenges are how to redevelop existing cities and form new developments that satisfy critical dimensions to qualify as an eco-city or sustainable city.
Paper Structure -Organisation
This paper consists of four sequential sections that relate to the objectives of the paper. The initial section deals with the evolution of the concept of Ecocities, while the second part reviews the definition of an eco-city. This is followed by an examination of the factors that affect the planning dimensions of an eco-city to develop the hypotheses. The last section concludes the study.
Evolution of the concept
There have been a number of historic and contemporary concepts in urban planning which have led to the development of the vision of an Eco-city as seen today. The historic urban planning examples mainly address solving of urban problems with concepts such as: Linear city, garden city, organic city, neighborhood unit, social city, design with nature, pattern language.  While urban planning concepts and practices were gaining important in the mid 19th century, these mainly focused on the interdependence of a number of key aspects. These aspects still make their appearance in the current eco-city model albeit in a new and interconnected manner.
The concept "sustainability" has been contemplated and articulated upon for years. Sim Van der Ryn and
Peter Calthrope's Sustainable Communities (1986), which appeared before the Brundtland Commission's Our Common Future with its famous definition of sustainable development (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), was itself based on a 1980 conference on how to redesign different types of cities to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel and to increase their livability. In the last few years there has been a torrent of literature on sustainability, however it is defined. The report of the first International Eco-City Conference in particular (Canfield, 1990) is a compendium of practices to create or move toward sustainability. One index lists 138 concerned organizations. Walter, et al in Sustainable Cities Concepts and Strategies for Eco-City Development (1992) have a section on six "design components" for creating such a community, the Citizen Planners of Ventura CA describe eight "ecological planning principles" (Citizen Planners, 1992), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives has published several works detailing what is being done in cities around the world to move toward sustainability (Brugman, 1992).There are many journals featured on sustainability, as well as reports, projects worldwide and success stories. The concept of 'Sustainable cities' is fast becoming the theme of discussion in most conferences at the national and international level.
Definition of an eco city
An Eco-city may be defined as a city with a delimited urban structure where impacts on the environment have been much reduced in comparison to the urban form existing in the area; it is composed of a compact, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use quarters or neighborhoods, which are integrated into a polycentric urban system in public-transport-oriented locations.  The success of an eco-city lies in the combination of land use, green areas and cultural heritage creating a sustainable and livable structure contributing to health, safety and well being of the community and their identification with the eco-city .The study shall aim at identifying the planning parameters which make the above possible.
"An eco-city may therefore be defined as an ecologically sustainable form of city that welds spatial, social and sustainable components to result in a harmonious city environment".
Other definitions from the papers
Dimensions of an eco-city
There are basically six dimensions which are relevant to eco-city planning: Each section is discussed in detail in the following sections
2.3.1 Socio-economic Organisation,
2.3.2 Urban form &Structure
2.3.3 Built environment
2.3.5 Energy & Resource flow
2.3.6 Urban Ecology
Socio-economic Organisation of an eco-city
Every city has the primary objective of promoting social diversity and integration as a predominant requirement in the social sphere. An eco-city is no different with the onus being on the provision of social and other infrastructure with good accessibility. Any city has a mix of cultural and social backgrounds, where a balanced, social and economic soundness contributes to the self-confidence of the community and administrative units in a constructive way. The vitality of the eco-city is hence improved by fostering lifestyles that conform to requirements of sustainability. Thus the socio-economic structure of an eco city can be summarized as the following points
- To promote diversified and integrated social environment
- To provide good accessibility for infrastructure and social
- To provide equity and harmony to all sections of the urban population
Housing & Society
Cities succeed because they offer social and employment opportunities to its residents, Eco cities can be planned to fight Poverty and environmental injustice, as often it is seen that the urban poor are left to suffer In the most ecologically sensitive parts of a city and the environmental impacts of some of the city's richer inhabitants often push these vulnerable groups into a deeper crisis. Housing design is another aspect of eco city planning that can address the issues of
- Equity &Diversity
- Democracy and opportunity
Janice .E.Perlman and Molly O'Meara Sheehan argue in their paper "Fighting Poverty and environmental injustice in Cities" that the widening gap between the rich and the poor have forced concentration of millions of peoples to live in inhospitable conditions in the so called mega cities like Mumbai, Dhaka, Jakarta, Seoul, Manila, Mexico city, Rio De Janerio and Karachi. The authors also assert that "...there can be no sustainable city in the twenty first century without social justice and political participation and well as economic vitality and ecological regeneration ..."
(Janice .E.Perlman and Molly O'Meara Sheehan, 2007)
Eco city planners need to address this anomaly in their new plans if the social aspect of sustainability needs to be achieved in these cities. Along with this there is also the need to ensure political participation and democracy in the issues of the city, such as the example of people's participation in the budgeting of the city's resources in Porte Alegro and stake holder interaction in civic management issues. Rabinovitch in his seminal work (Curitiba: Towards sustainable urban development, 1992) on the transformation in Curitiba, Brazil has highlighted the successes of participative democracy in shaping the destiny of the city.
Eco city development must also focus on the underlying economic framework that ensures the success of any large urban area. The creation of jobs and planning for mixed use city blocks with reduced transportation and energy costs will ensure the long term sustainability of the project.
The social infrastructure in an eco-city is provided by spaces such as schools, health facilities or access to similar facilities, shopping facilities, places of worship, and spaces for the elderly, sports and leisure activities. These serve in fostering a sense of belonging and identity of the community with the neighborhood resulting in a more democratic and integrative culture.
One of critical flaws in a large city is the long distances for commuting, which can be overcome in an eco-city through the provision of a mixed use development with shorter distances facilitating combination of work and family life. The eco-city has to achieve the right mix of uses in a city which would meet the demand of the community along with the interests of companies and leisure institutions. The eco-city must allow for infrastructure for business, along with spaces for leisure activities, contributing to the urban vitality. The mixed use development is hence more sustainable and profitable, as they also adapt more flexibly to the changing economic climates.
One of the primary objectives of the eco-city must be the reduction of lifecycle costs and long term economic infrastructure. This can be addressed with the provision of affordable housing along with affordable commercial units to achieve mixed use and forms of tenure along with a good social mix. This can be achieved with high density planning; with the generation of low percentage of land costs as part of the costs of houses and apartments. The maintenance and gradual redevelopment of existing buildings on Brownfield sites is often an opportunity for offering space for commercial and non-profit use, where tenants cannot afford high rents or investment in new buildings.
Urban form & structure
The definition of urban form refers to the land use planning, physical layout and design of the city - urban. Urban design must concern on density, street layout, and urban design issues. Other than those issues, growth management issues such as urban sprawl, growth patterns and phasing of developments also heavily influence urban form.
The urban form of the city has to be developed in relevancy with the concept of eco-city. The whole concept is pointing steps to design the urban form that caters the city as one form rather than fragmented form based on each individual requirement. As the city grows from time to time, city planning must take a broader perspective not only the design of individual building rather than the whole picture. The most important thing that not to be neglected, urban planning has to be people centered rather than design centered.
The comparative studies of city form and the spread of activities creates an ideal shape of city, how the basic shape of city captures the daily movement and activities. The composition of the people live in the city has to be considered thoroughly, what are their requirements and activities happen in the social environment. The city shape has to capture the correct perspective and it creates basic frameworks to allow people "growth" in their activities. In order to achieve certain urban form which is dedicated to create the eco-city,
Pheng.L.S., et al, 2009 suggest the following steps
- The city has a compact, mixed-use urban form that uses land efficiently and protects the natural environment, biodiversity and food-producing areas.
- Fundamentally different approach of city planning, basically to control the spread of activities in city with integrated business, industrial, and residential zones.
- By creating the smallest possible ecological footprint in terms of urban form, an eco-city is able to be self esteem itself with minimal dependence to the surroundings.
- Three dimensional
- Higher density must be combined with mix used instituting mixed use zonings and zoning that concentrates on development rather than scattering it is an important part of solution. Requiring developers to build apartments in or near tall buildings is helpful. Constructing buildings, even large ones, with a smaller grain or texture, that vitality.
- Diversity which is healthy in ecological system is also healthy for society and economy in cities. If sprawl is destructive for forcing people to live in large expanses of uniform use and forcing people to travel long distance in polluting, energy wasting vehicles, then so is the dense single-use downtown at the other end of the commute. The solution is to increase diversity as new development replaces or supplements old.
- Many actions supports diverse three dimensionality. We can adopt "proximity policies" that prescribe hiring ,renting, and loaning preferentially to people working close to home or people don't have cars.
- City plans can set quotas for new development and guide the citizenry toward balanced diversity. For example, if a downtown and its immediate neighborhood are composed of 90% work space and 10% housing, future building could be say 30% work space and 70% housing until a better balance is reached and commuting radically reduced. This can be legally regulated in new zoning and by ordinance. It can be promoted by tax penalties on one hand or tax reduction or forgiveness on the other hand.
- Just imagine development in "spots" or small areas of diversity is very helpful, large downtown spots and smaller ones in smaller neighborhood centers. Public transportation work best when moving people from one active spot to another, it doesn't work well attempting to connect scattered low-density sprawl.
Based on the above mentioned principles, many helpful ideas and ways are found to build the eco-city. We can preserve or restore creeks, rivers, shorefronts and springs whenever possible, and build structures either at a respectful distance or in an appreciative, enhancing relationship to the water. We can preserve excess runoff from damaging creeks, bays and wet lands by collecting water in cisterns and sumps or by using "permeable paving," and narrower sidewalks and streets. We can avoid contamination by reducing the number of cars, new and used car lots and so on; size and number of gas stations; and by not drenching lawns.
More gardening such as urban orchards, solar greenhouse, and rooftop gardens is important for ecocities. The agricultural areas can be brought up to the gates of the city such as making serious food raising a conscious part of every urban person's experience. We can re-establish or permit natural life forms to coexist with city by giving them sizable slices of their natural habitants around the city or within it. Public and private funds should be established to gradually buy and remove badly located building. And more space serving the same uses (housing, work, education) should be built in ecologically preferable locations in the same town. Zoning and tax incentives can assist in opening up the city to nature while shifting urban activity to other areas.
We shall be cleaner and recyclable and substantially curtail making and buying un-recyclable and contaminating products in the first place.
Sustainable Urban Forms: Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts
Variables affecting urban structures and urban forms
Reasonable design of urban structures and form shall minimize demand of land to minimize the transport demands, primary material and energy consumption so as to maintain a better natural environment and human health.
Demand of land
Reduce demand of land through increasing re-use of land/existing structures - Develop qualified high-density buildings such as multi-storey residential, commercial or mixed used buildings.
Use of land
Appropriate use of land through balancing the residential, commercial and educational uses as well as distribution, supply and recreational facilities, mixed-use of structures at buildings, blocks and neighborhoods.
To provide attractive and livable public space for daily life
To form livability, legibility and connectivity of public space patterns
Landscape / green area
To integrate enough green buffers for the building/neighborhood design
To create landscape patterns for high social usability
To achieve outdoor comfort for daily life
Minimize pollutions such as noise, air pollution and so on.
To provide comfort indoors life throughout the building life cycle.
To construct buildings with good flexibility, more communicative and good accessibility.
Urban Structure - NEIGHBORHOOD
One of the most important principles to plan eco-city is to build it on a basically three dimensional, integral, complex model not flat, random, and in large areas uniform and simple. Like any living system, the city should be compact and designed primarily for a population of living things, mostly people, rather than cars or even buses. Its physical body and logistics must be based on the needs of flesh and blood, not steel and gasoline.
It must be a pedestrian city, its shape and function should be Three dimensional with well integrated complexity, The "organic city " is a term some people are beginning to use, and so it must be.
Integral neighborhoods& Complex buildings
This integral neighborhood is a very diverse "mixed use" area. It is integral in the sense that its various functions are closely lined and usefully related one to another. Homes, jobs, schools, recreation, natural features (like the open creek) and agricultural features (like the many gardens and fruit trees) make the neighborhood a kind of village in the city.
The basics of a lively community are all here-and so is the culture of the city and all its special contributions the require a larger population base: nearby downtown, schools of higher learning, theaters, research centers, hospitals, In the integral neighborhood there is some animal raising, almost complete recycling, solar and wind energy harnessed, fuel energy conserved with insulation and non-auto transportation. Some professional offices and arts, crafts and trades work spaces fit well here.
Many neighborhood changes can be initiated by individuals acting alone or in small groups. When it comes to increasing or decreasing densities, broader efforts are required, zoning needs to be changed along with tax incentives, city services, streets, and more. Neighborhoods tend to be extremely conservative, so it is important to approach the city government first with the whole city in mind. In this case toward the uniform suburban sprawl that characterizes development patterns today. Generally, the following would be helpful steps moving the city toward ecological health:
In very large suburban sprawls, locate good potential centers and begin focusing development there while withdrawing from areas at greater distance from the centers. Either that or if the whole area has little reason for being other than as a bedroom to a city, the general withdrawal should be initiated.
Make most streets narrower while adding garden space.
Use positive incentives when withdrawing development in one place and increasing it in another Public and private funds (reprioritized tax money, bond money, bond money, endowments, land banking, non-profit donations, etc.) and other kinds of assistance should be available to more than compensate people for moving. Transfer of development rights from low density areas to higher density area could be worked out to help developers build in the right places.
Preserve medium density neighborhoods while vitalizing their centers, adding population within two or three block of these centers, bring back the corner store and add a few apartments upstairs. Add housing space near the centers by encouraging garage, basement, and attic conversions into bedrooms or complete living units, or by raising the house and adding a story.
Withdraw from low density neighborhoods and areas of medium density in sensitive or rich ecological areas such as creeks and shorelines
The mixed use buildings are traditional in many cities with shops on ground floors and apartments above. In an eco-city future, this kind of building will be typically located in and immediately adjacent to eco-city downtowns and in transit villages and neighborhood centers, but it will have new eco-city features built in, such as multi-story greenhouses and rooftop and terrace public spaces, residential "zero lot line" development will be typical, with each building touching the building next door.
Minimize transport demands to reduce energy consumption, environmental problems such as pollutions, gas emission etc, social and health problems such as traffic accident, noise pollutions and so on.
The considerable variables affecting transport is follows:-
Slow modes / public transport
- Minimize the distances (in time and spaces) to reduce travel demand
- Pedestrian and cycle path shall be main network for inter-neighborhood traffic
- Encourage and develop public transport as personal transport system
Individual motorized travel
- Reduce volume and speed of individual motorized travel
- Implement parking management system to reduce individual motorized travel
Transportation of goods
- To facilitate delivery of goods and minimize using private car to carry goods
- Plan for efficient logistics.
The compact form of city will help its citizens to save travelling time for theirs daily activities, this condition related to the issue of transportation which is seen as one of the main problem of unsustainable city. Unsystematic transportation system makes city suffer in terms of socio-cultural to environment aspects, such as: traffic jammed or polluted environment due to carbon monoxide and gas emission. There are few basic steps to answer the problem of transportation (Gaffron, P., et al, 2005):
- Improve public transportation systems and infrastructures to reduce the traveling by car and increasingly by mass transit, walking and bicycling;
- Freeway and road infrastructure are de-emphasized in favour of transit, walking and cycling infrastructure, with a special emphasis on rail. Car and motorcycle use are minimized; and
- The central city and sub-centres within the city are human centres that emphasize access and circulation by modes of transport other than the automobile, and absorb a high proportion of employment and residential growth.
Energy & Material Flow
To minimize primary material and energy consumptions to benefit the natural environment and human health.
- Optimize energy efficiency of the urban structure
- Minimize buildings' energy demand
- Maximize efficiency of energy supply
- Maximize share of renewable energy sources
- Minimize water consumption
- Minimize impairment of the natural water cycle
Minimize the volume of waster generated and waster going to disposal.
- Minimize building material usage and maximize recyclabilites of materials
- Maximize the use of environmentally friendly and healthy building materials
City and the environment Hari to finish
2.4 Forces Driving eco cities Growth and decay of cities One size does not fit all
2.6 summary and emerging issues Resilient cities
The study attempts to identify the key factors that affect the planning principles of an eco-city..... It is hypothesized that such
From the literature review, it is hypothesized that an eco-city is determined by the following dimensions in the order discussed:
- Urban Form and Structure
- Energy & Material Flow
- Urban Ecology
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