Biophilia and Gaia: Two Hypotheses for an Affective Ecology

Giuseppe Barbiero, PhD
Università della Valle d’Aosta / Université de la Vallée d’Aoste
Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione – Faculté des Sciences de la Formation
Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Sustainability
Università degli studi di Torino


Affective Ecology is a new branch of ecology concerned with emotional relationships
between human beings and the rest of the living world. The basic instinct that guides the
evolution and maturation of a well-tuned relationship with the living world seems to be
biophilia, our innate tendency to focus upon life and life-like forms and, in some instances, to
affiliate with them emotionally (The Biophilia Hypothesis). Our feeling of a deep connection
to Nature, our sensation of being a child of Mother Earth, of Gaia, is probably an instinct and
it is present in all human cultures, including those more technologically advanced, where a
scientific understanding of the planet’s living nature has been developing to an ever more
advanced level (The Gaia Hypothesis). Nevertheless, within our artificial society, now distant
from the natural world, we are running the risk that our biophilia is not becoming adequately
stimulated in order for it to flourish as naturalist intelligence, the ability to take care of and
subtly interact with living creatures. On a brighter note, we are discovering that Gaia
continues to affect us on a deep psychological level, activating our involuntary attention
(fascination) and favouring the restoration of our attentional capacity. We can all learn to
respond to the call of Gaia and the natural world, to refine our senses and our mental
capacities through the practice of active silence (mindfulness meditation); an engagement that
seems to be particularly efficient in re-establishing our personal connections with Gaia and
the living world.

Keywords: Active Silence Training (AST); Affiliation; Attention Restoration Theory (ART);
Directed Attention; Empathy; Fascination; Mindfulness Meditation; Open Attention.

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Green infrastructure planning: a contemporary approach for innovative interventions in urban landscape management

Dr. Ian C. Mell
Department of Town & Regional Planning
University of Sheffield

Green infrastructure has become established as the central approach to landscape planning in
the UK, Europe and North America over the past decade. Bringing together a number of
disciplines to form a coherent landscape resource based approach to environmental
management. By assessing its utility and value this paper addresses the development of this
approach in policy, practice and examines its successes and failures. Reviewing alternative
approaches that green infrastructure interventions take to meet the challenges of population
growth, transport and recreational needs and supporting economic growth is therefore an
important assessment. This is discussed in terms of the direction that current and future green
infrastructure planning policy is being presented in. Despite the extensive use of its principles
in landscape planning in the UK, Europe and North America additional data is required if it is
to be embedded fully in policy at the appropriate scale.

Keywords: Green infrastructure, green urbanism, landscape management, urban planning.

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How to investigate and improve legibility of urban projects to make them understandable for blind people?

Contribution of Social and Behavioral Sciences Methods to Design for All Approach

Ewa Kuryłowicz, Zuzanna Bogucka
Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

The following article is an overview of how well the architects are equipped with knowledge and rules of art regarding the issue of engaging disabled persons into user groups in environment built upon rules of full equivalency and a suggestion of further directions of complementing the Design for All principles and consequently rules and regulations based on
research conclusions from related branches.
The research report analyzed legibility of urban space (and architectural), the way it was understood by Lynch (1960), as a dimension essential to ease of learning by blind persons of a given terrain and creating its cognitive maps. Four land management urban projects of Olympia Park Berlin (Pichselberg Tip) in form of tactile maps were presented to participants
of research. After a standardized procedure of acquaintance with each of these projects a structured interview was conducted with each of the research participants, in which they were asked for items facilitating or hindering familiarizing with the map, learning the terrain and items potentially hampering individual movement around it. Qualitative data from these interviews as well as geographical data that presented trouble spots for blind persons in urban projects allowed determining which one from spatial systems was the most and which least legible and thus present recommendations for potential changes in eventual, further designing stages of Olympia Park Berlin.
Research presented in such format inscribes into participation design trend, which stipulates involvement of participants (future and/or potential) into designing process. Featured research, however, is an example of an urban projects evaluation method concerning the needs of blind persons and how can they become involved in designing process.

Keywords: Design for All, participatory design, cognitive maps, spatial orientation,
blindness, tactile map.

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Stormwater management: Designing urban hydrological systems as infrascapes

Dipl.-Ing. Amiyo R. Ruhnke
Infrascape Studio
Hamburg, Germany

Water infrastructure tends to be designed as networked systems. Such systems can be found
in nature as well, for example in the self-organizing systems of mycelia fungi. Understanding
their mechanism leads to a design approach that interweaves urban water infrastructure with
open space planning. Core principles learned from the fungi were applied to a site in New
Orleans. The design strategy concentrated on improving the quality of the open space as well
as linking storm water management with engineering and urban design strategies. Flexible
and resilient solutions that blend centralized as well as de-centralized water infrastructure
with the urban landscape became the basic planning strategy. Small scale solutions were
designed for specific situations and connected with larger scale systems, both as technical
infrastructure and as integral parts of an open space framework, reframing the urban
landscape as a continuous infrascape.

Keywords: Storm water, landscape infrastructure, networked systems, ecological
engineering, resilience, infrascapes, water sensitive urban design, New Orleans.

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Sustainable refurbishment as a driving factor of urban regeneration

Evgenia Budanova
London, UK

This article is discussing advantages of the process of refurbishment, how it affects the environment and urban fabric. It also revises a case study of sustainable refurbishment of an industrial building as a successful example of such a conversion. Features of industrial areas in Moscow and particularly the area, where intervention will take place, are investigated. Furthermore, the given conditions of the climate and local building regulations are analyzed. The main climate’s responsive strategies are tested with the use of TAS software and then they are applied to the intervention building, where the best performing dwelling was selected. Climate was simulated in order to investigate the energy perfor¬mance of the intervention building. The results obtained confirm that a dwelling in the refurbished industrial building in Moscow can consume less energy than a conventional one.

Keywords: Refurbishment, conversion, industrial building, urban regeneration, Moscow.

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A Vision for the Future of Havana

Julio César Pérez Hernández
President, Cuban Chapter C.E.U and I.N.T.B.A.U
Architect and Urban Planner/Designer


The Havana Master Plan aspires to recreate a pedestrian friendly urban ambience that encourages outdoor living – according to Cuban’s idiosyncrasy – and social and cultural integration where people can meet, work, relax and enjoy. It consists of a number of pragmatic considerations and proposals expressed in concrete projects supported by contemporary urban theory and studies and also based on the past plans with their virtues and failures. It is also based on the experiences obtained in numerous travels abroad – including the United States of America, Canada and Europe – and the exchange with qualified planning professionals from different latitudes.

Keywords: Havana, 21st century Master Plan, Caribbean metropolis, spirit of the place.

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Geothermal Heat Exchange as a basis for visioning the City of Tomorrow

Robert J. Koester, AIA LEED AP
Professor of Architecture
Director of CERES
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana, USA

The City (of Tomorrow) is here now – but only if we transform our current urban fabrics into organic whole systems of operational performance. Geothermal exchange offers the platform for doing so.
This paper presents an overview of geothermal technology, discusses in some detail a large-scale (urban) application at Ball State University, a Midwestern campus in the U.S., and addresses the visioning of the City (of Tomorrow) as a reconceptualization of current urban fabric as an energy-balancing system.

Keywords: Geothermal technology, Ball State University Campus, City of Tomorrow

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Patterns with a Heart

Jaap Dawson

Delft University of Technology
Department of Architecture

This paper was presented to the European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE) Conference ‘New Urban Configurations’, held in Delft, The Netherlands, October 16th-19th 2012, and will be re-published within the Conference proceedings. We are grateful to EAAE for the permission to publish it in JBU first.

Keywords: Meaning; Analogy; Spatial Patterns; Centres; Boundaries.


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