Singapore: City in a Garden (Click here to read article)

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Singapore: City in a Garden
There has been unprecedented priority given in recent years to sustainable cities and green building (a very positive trend), but too often the result are places that are not especially green in the literal sense. While not a perfect story, there are few dense cities in the world today that can claim a better record of greening the city than Singapore.  For many years known as a garden city, Singapore has now shifted significantly its aspiration—it now strives to be “a City in a Garden”[MORE...]


Cities and Nature Together
Greetings and welcome to our inaugural Biophilic Cities newsletter. The Biophilic Cities Project, based at the University of Virginia, has the primary goal of better understanding how cities can include nature in their planning and operation, not as an afterthought, but as an essential life element and key organizing principle. Building on the insights of biophilia (popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson), the basic premise is that we have co-evolved with nature, and that we need daily contact with nature to lead truly happy, healthy and meaningful lives.  As Wilson has said “The human species has grown up with nature,” and so it is no surprise that we are happiest, healthiest, even more generous, in the presence of nature. Nature is not optional, but essential to daily urban life.

As we continue to urbanize globally we need better models, better tools, and much inspiration, if we are to create urban environments that are truly nature-full, bountiful and restorative (ecologically and emotionally). This is one of the significant challenges of our time, and fully integrating nature into our urban lives will call on us to muster much creative energy.   With new funding from the Washington-based Summit Foundation, we are excited to be able to expand our global reach, studying the best examples of biophilic cities from around the world, and forming a global network of “biophilic urbanists.”
We are very happy to announce the launching of our much expanded webpage Biophilic Cities. We encourage you to visit the site, and to share this newsletter and webpage link with friends and colleagues who may be interested in this topic. We want to grow the community of scholars, activists and professionals who work on behalf of urban nature. 

Ideas & Tools

Parklets: San Francisco & Beyond
Parklets are the latest biophilic feature to invade the streets of urban America this year. The concept began in 2005 as design studio Rebar purchased a 2-hour metered parking spot in San Francisco and gave it a life of its own by bringing in sod, a bench, and a tree for the people passing to stop and enjoy. This demonstration, later known as Park(ing) day, caught on quickly and has been replicated in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Vancouver across the country. By 2011, Park(ing) Day had gained a strong foundation of support with thousands of people canvassing their cities to lease and personalize spaces. The city of San Francisco responded to this popular notion with an innovative plan to offer a special permitting process for temporary sidewalk extensions known as “parklets”. [MORE...]


Terrapin Bright Green Releases 'The Economics of Biophilia'
Why do certain places make us feel good? Anthropologists tell us we are hard-wired to respond to nature. People viscerally respond to the same relationships in architecture because they make us feel good. These sensations are known as biophilia. Terrapin Bright Green is pleased to release The Economics of Biophilia, a white paper that compiles an economic argument for biophilic design in the built environment. For the first time, Terrapin Bright Green quantifies for a general audience the dollar savings that result from biophilic design in a variety of applications. [MORE...]

About the Project

The Biophilic Cities project is an umbrella term that refers to research and policy work on biophilic cities, both domestically and internationally, by Professor Tim Beatley and his team at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. Its principal aim is to advance the theory and practice of planning for biophilic cities, through a combination of collaborative research, dialogue and exchange, teaching. Researchers at UVA will partner with in-country collaborators, to assess and monitor biophilic urban qualities and conditions, to identify obstacles and impediments to achieving more biophilic cities, and to identify and document best practices in biophilic urban design and planning. The Project will help to foster discussion and dialogue between and among researchers (and planners and policymakers in case study cities), will periodically convene researchers, and will publish working papers, reports and other publications that disseminate the findings of the project work, and spread the message about biophilic cities. [MORE...]
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