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    Natural Cities

    In his 2011 book, Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning, Timothy Beatley (he teaches about sustainable communities at the University of Virginia) writes:

    Any conception of a biophilic city is one in which access to nature is viewed as essential to a meaningful and happy life and thus something that that all individuals and neighborhoods are entitled to.

    Translated into practice, this would mean that no one would be more than  short walk – one or two blocks at the most – away from green space which feels authentically like nature – mostly because it is authentic nature. It could be nature in the raw – a lot left to reclaim its urban wildness, or human guided – waterwalls, flowers, community gardens, urban orchards. It could be shared space, that is, a commons, or protected and preserved private space.

    And while access can mean many things, in this case it optimally means entry into this charmed green space – although just seeing, smelling and hearing nature close up can also be soothing, healing, connecting, restorative.

    While a better name for this urban initiative might be creating Natural Cities, Beatley puts out an invaluable call to integrate nature and buildings so that, in the words of Bill McDonough, we design “buidings like trees, cities like forests.”



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