One could say walking is the future of healthy mobility and forward-thinking urbanism. Yet, must it solely occur in current conceptions of a city? Vegetation as Urbanism is a research project that aims to redefine current paradigms, and provide a new language and milieu as a backdrop to a more connected built environment.
When most people are asked to think of a city, the Manhattan skyline might quickly come to mind. Yet, the current popular conception that urbanism constitutes an arrangement of spatial constructs of concrete, glass and steel is not only antiquated, but belies the fact that vegetative infrastructures are the actual agents that make modern city-life possible. And yet, these immensely fascinating patterns, which exhibit a whole new zeitgeist, have remained unexamined and left as an afterthought to city making and the cars vs public transit discourse. The images to the right, are all the same scale, but noticeably reveal a different set of operating procedures from the removed and far-away urban centers they service. What if it weren’t this way? What if agricultural landscapes of production, these life-giving vegetative arrangements, were more closely integrated with cities and their fabric? It is our speculation that smarter, more intertwined cities would facilitate walking and sustainable lifestyles. Furthermore, we seek to catalyze a more environmentally-conscious way of living that co-opts design strategies to mold behavior, urban mobility and societal change.
At first glance they might simply seem evocative, yet upon deeper examination, currently selected sites like Kansas, the Mississippi River Banks, the Mexican-American border, or Dutch farms reminiscent of Mayan chinampa technology all present incredible opportunities to propose a new way of developing cities, and in turn, how people move in and through them. As Jepranshu Aganivanshi proffers, “The human race used to maintain a balance with nature. But for the last two centuries, emphasis has switched to an expansion of area and infrastructure, leaving behind the standards of human existence, our natural behavior and basic living values." It is time to look backwards into history to move forward with progress into our future.