Defining Urban Ecology

After reading for the past two days several chapters of the book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” a task appointed in the Urban Design Studio. Starting the new reading assignment citing surprisingly again Jane Jacobs gives me a delusional idea that, as we talked earlier this afternoon, the topics are still as relevant as in the 1960s for the question and resolving of urban issues.

Moving to the particular task; What is Urban Ecology? I could condense that this is a field of study that takes humans with its urban forms (cities, towns) together with all the other creatures on the planet, and tries to formulate a path to create a more sustainable future of coexistence (Hough 2004). Furthermore, engaging this science in the development of urban architectural practice, the author of the book gives particular statements that reinforce the understanding of this practice. Some of them most transcendental like; the ever contrasting between formal and natural developments within the cities (Hough 2004). The considerations in the perception of modern cities (which are four: visual connections to the countryside, parks are for recreations, city, and countryside mutually exclusive places, and the abundance of energy) (Hough 2004). And all this to culminate with the idea of the concern of the urban ecology as a field where urbanism and ecology are not only integrated by name but by necessity (Hough 2004).

After the above, design principles are defined, which I believe are important to open this area to our own knowledge and future implementation. Finally, another author, Stephen Boyden, contribute to this synthesis of definitions by stating the necessity of an achievement to a cultural reform in humankind. In his own words, to “embrace ‘a basic understanding of, and reverence for, nature and the processes of life…to lead to ‘a new worldview and a seminal shift in the priorities of the dominant culture so that the health and well-being of living systems would assume top position in the hierarchy of priorities” (Boyden 2009). Thus, solidifying the definition of Urban Ecology.


Hough, Michael. «Urban Ecology: a basis for shaping cities.» En Cities and Natural Process: A basis for sustainability, de Michael Hough, 5 – 25. London: Routledge, 2004.

Boyden, Stephen. «Human Culture as a Force in Nature.» En Ecopolis: Architecture and Cities for a Changing Climate, de Paul F. Downton, 111-112. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media, 2009.


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