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2000 Spotlight on Graduate and Undergraduate Research at ESF
Landscape Architecture Abstracts





MOSAIC CITIES: UNDERSTANDING THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF SUSTAINABILITY. Mariana Boldu, Gustavo Dallmann, and Emanuel Carter, Jr., Faculty of Landscape Architecture416 Marshall Hall, SUNY ESF College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, 13210.

We believe that there are issues related to the way sustainability has been addressed that need to be reevaluated. The first one relates to the specialization and fragmentation of knowledge. We believe that everything in our world is organized in terms of fundamental biological laws. We need to identify those laws, because that is what is essential. Another issue is that we need a better understanding of what sustainability is, and we need to find a model of sustainability that connects with the fundamental biological laws. The next issue is about scale. We already have considered that there is a need of taking nature as a model to discover the essential laws of sustainability. Ecosystems are the basic units of nature, and cities are the basic units of culture. Therefore, in striving for achieving a more sustainable future we should look at cities as our study units, remembering that cities are also part of the whole system called nature. The last issue related to the attitude that designers and planners apply to ecological design. We should use a design language of integration more than a design language of mitigation as a way of recreating a more sustainable vision of the future. To explore the issues mentioned above we use the following methodology: - Sustainability Criteria Definition, - Sustainability Model and Indicators development, - Evaluating & Measuring Sustainability (Syracuse U.S.A.and Vitoria-Gasteiz Spain, comparative analysis), - Charrette Experiences (Design exercise in Vitoria-Gasteiz and Design exercise in Urban Design Studio, Syracuse), - Conclusions, - Publication development & presentation. We found that the sustainability criteria definition outlined in this project is a useful tool to measure sustainability as well as to approach design explorations that could be either of different scales or different type of design issues. We also found that the sustainability criteria definition is not tied to the trends of the global economy, and there will be little hope for sustainability until we globally agree on redefining economics. The use of indicators to do a comparative analysis is a very difficult enterprise and not always conducts to a fair comparison. Even though there is a need to continue to explore the feasibility of consensus on common indicators that would set the global framework while still developing local ones. Agenda 21 needs to be inspired in a strong sense of common compromises rather than in a political will based in the power of individual rights to better strive for sustainability. We conclude that today, urban design must be about designing what nature would select for, is a matter of ensuring our survival, is what sustainability is all about.