Editorial, JBU II (2012) 2

Eleni Tracada
University of Derby, Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology
Head of Built Environment Research Group

As an Editor of the Journal of Biourbanism, I am pleased to announce that, for this issue some distinguished authors have also submitted their work to be peer reviewed and eventually be published alongside with PhD scholars work. It is an honour for us in Biourbanism to get so much response to our calls for papers from both established researchers and new inquisitive young specialists. The discourse and debate, which, I am sure, will emerge will not only help experts, but also communities interested directly in the future of the cities they live and work. Thus, in this current issue, the authors’ contributions were carefully peer reviewed to initiate again a new series of fruitful discussions and enable scholars communicate their ideas in progress and/or developing theories and practices on advanced sustainable methods of architectural and/or infrastructural design in order to achieve high standards in urban design and planning simultaneously.

Prof. Nikos Salingaros’ paper gave me the opportunity to discuss with him on a topic which is very dear to me personally as a scholar and to my postgraduate students as well; that is the topic on fractal dimensions having even healing power on human bodies and minds. In his important paper with the title Fractal Art and Architecture reduce Physiological Stress, Prof. Salingaros proves that human beings respond in a very positive way to fractals, as these appear and appeal to human perception in a variety of their manifestations. Prof. Salingaros has based his discussion not only on his own scientific evidence and experience, but also on other authors and scientists’ findings, especially during the last few decades of rapid technological developments in digitalisation in arts and architecture. As a result of his valuable research, the author affirms that, euphoria is the result of sensational experiences of human beings in direct contact with fractal landscapes; whereas stress can be sensed when minimalist environments are completely sterile of fractal geometries and patterns. In the last couple of years, I had the opportunity personally to carry out several short workshops/projects with my students and tested Prof. Salingaros’ ideas and formulas on Thermodynamics of the built environment; we have managed to get very significant findings and we hope to carry on this direction in order to develop useful tools to be easily used in proposed and scientifically and sustainably planned either new districts of cities or areas of regeneration. With his article, in this current issue, Prof. Salingaros offers us the chance to see how from a real biophilic environment and by transforming it into abstract design, we risk getting people extremely stressed rather than happily excited. Then, my students and I shall be eager to use his suggestions on fractal dimensions and see how especially fractal gaskets can create comfortable architectural 3D spaces, not necessarily flat decorative horizontal or perpendicular surfaces. Nevertheless, this article can really give us a lot of elements to play with, test and enjoy.

In their Ecological Design for Dynamic Systems: Landscape Architecture’s Conjunction with Complexity Theory, Prof. Robert Mugerauer and Prof. Kuei-Hsien Liao also affirm that, ecological design is directly linked to self-organising organisms, ecosystems and cities; this is the kind of design to help us resolve current social and economic problems. According to these two authors the ecosystems’ self-organizing capacity should be maintained unaltered and uninterrupted in such a manner that, damaged ecosystems dynamics should be continuously preserved and restored within an operational new paradigm of complexity theory. The importance of this paper again is that, the authors have used examples of hydrologic flow regime and flooding to test scientifically ecological designs; the authors talk about complexity theory by explaining resilience, adaptation, plasticity and related concepts and also discuss in detail the impact of this theory to ecology and design. This is a valuable paper, highlighting that, design work which is based upon complexity theory does not only follow universal formula or set of rules by incorporating the critical variables of initial historical conditions, but also encompasses pre-existing landscape properties and life cycles in never-ending interactive processes of growth, decline, new assembly and dissipation.

Then, we find again with pleasure another interesting paper by Joseph Akinlabi Fadamiro, Joseph Adeniran Adedeji, and Rasaki Aderemi Ibrahim on Indigenous urban open spaces as public infrastructures for sustainable cultural system in Ilawe-Ekiti, Nigeria. These authors discuss about urban open spaces in relationship to public infrastructure and indigenous value-system in cities in Nigeria; they debate on the fast loss of indigenous public open spaces and their negative effects in urbanisation. The research and study as a whole focuses mainly on how these important spaces could be sustainably safeguarded. The scholars seem to be extremely keen to support an incessant protection of these important cultural spaces, which again shows that landscapes and cityscapes should be always considered as valuable manifestation of harmonious continuation of human life in any part of the globe.

I should like also to mention the fact that, four papers included in this issue have been especially peer reviewed and selected by Editor’s choice after having been submitted to be presented and included in the Water Efficiency (Watef) Conference 2013, with the title Innovation through Cooperation; this conference was organised by the University of Brighton, UK and took place in Oxford from 25th to 27th March 2013. I am a member of the Waterwise/Watef Network established in 2011 and I was especially invited by Dr. Kemi Adeyeye, Watef Network Coordinator, in the Conference Scientific Committee; I had the opportunity to take part in blind peer review processes and finally select the papers included in this current issue, as follows:
– In their paper Towards in integrated approach to measuring and monitoring water in domestic building, Dexter Robinson, Jonathan Gates, Simon Walters and Kemi Adeyeye discuss why the impact of human activity on the natural environment is so damaging by only considering water consumption in dwellings nowadays. The authors propose that it is necessary to monitor simply, cheaply and accurately, water use factors which can be used to inform customised water efficiency strategies in a building. Thus, the authors investigate on water technology performances and water efficiency in contemporary dwellings; they also refer to climate change and human behaviours to be adequately adapted to this in order to preserve efficient supplies of water, our most precious natural element to preserve human life on this planet.
Ifte Choudhury and Farzana Sultana, in their Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Consumption in Bangladesh, explain to us why water supplies have suffered in Bangladesh by industrial and human effect pollution; the authors explore the possibility of rainwater harvesting for domestic consumption in urban areas and propose guidelines to compute storage requirements. Their guidelines may also form a useful tool/model for rain harvesting in cities in Bangladesh in desperate need of water supplies.
– In his Supply and Demand of Potable Water in Australia and the United Kingdom. How climate change can affect the distribution of potable water supply, Lee Callaghan focuses on the increasing impact on water utility companies and their customers to conserve water in both countries; the author compares and addresses common and non-common issues and discusses mainly public perception on water conservation.
– In their The use of the water element in the energetics of Micro-urban development in Slovak Republic and Taiwan R.O.C., Stefan Tkac and Zuzana Vranayova discuss issues related to unregulated growth and energy consumption in some small city districts; they propose new multi-purpose hydro types to fit micro-urban demands and preserve both water and energy production methods used via efficient power grid circles in cities. This is an interesting article which considers both water and electricity uses according to specific planned urban systems in micro and macro scales.

And finally, we have got an interesting and perhaps fairly controversial article by Dr. Thomas Mical, who talks about Soft Infrastructures for a Neo-Metabolism. We may say that the author attempts to explain, according to his own understanding and analysis, how Biourbanism encompasses Soft natural systems thinking, or at least, how close Biourbanism could be with an interplay of systems, intersecting architecture, infrastructure, and landscape urbanism. I am sure that this paper will trigger a sparkling debate between scholars. But, having been teaching in the department of the Built Environment for several years, I feel that, this is the time to talk about hard infrastructures in cities and how these could fit in urban design and planning today without obstruction to ordinary human life in cities. However, I believe that, architecture, civil engineering and urbanism should cooperate in order to establish new regulations, which would allow for self-organisation of communities and would guarantee fractal harmonious developments in social-economical and urban growth simultaneously.

It has been a great pleasure to act as Editor in Chief of this issue as well and once again I should like to thank all the authors who have taken the time and effort to produce the aforementioned published papers. I should also like to thank all authors who submitted papers, but did not get the opportunity to be published this time, because of major corrections asked by peer reviewers. I am looking forward to receiving these resubmissions for our next issue and having them published. Our scientific committee and the executive team of the International Society of Biourbanism will decide soon about deadlines of submission for the next issue of our Journal of Biourbanism. Please, keep an eye constantly on our web site, in which you will also find more materials published or announcements on the progress of specific important publications pertinent to our past, current and future activities.

I am always convinced that all issues raised by the papers included in this current issue will create a fruitful and interesting discussion, which can be always produce new articles and perhaps a full conference on Biourbanism soon. All our members of our committees and, especially our scientific committee, encourage research developments in the discipline and philosophy of Biourbanism worldwide by constantly organising events, symposia and specialist workshops / summer schools. Thus, I should encourage all readers and scholars to participate in additional discussions and contribute actively by writing their thoughts and findings in more papers to be submitted in the near future.
I shall add that this year has been a very challenging and exciting one for the staff of the International Society of Biourbanism, who participated in conferences in U.S.A. and Europe, and worked hard on research, teaching, and dissemination. This, together with the decision of publishing some selected contributions to the Watef conference, delayed the editing of the present issue nr. 2 of 2012 to 2013.
Thank you for considering our continuous efforts.

My best wishes to all of you.
Eleni Tracada

Fractal Art and Architecture Reduce Physiological Stress

Nikos A. Salingaros, University of Texas at San Antonio, Department of Mathematics. San Antonio, TX 78249 U.S.A.

Human beings are apparently tuned to prefer an environment that has the self-similar properties of a fractal. Furthermore, as different types of fractals are characterized by what is known as their “fractal dimension” D , we respond best to “mid-range” fractals where D is between 1.3 and 1.5. In such fractal environments, our body automatically dampens its response to stress induced by intensive tasks and reaction to external forces. This implies that particular fractal environments are healing, or at least buffer us from life’s stresses. The remarkable fact is that this response is independent of what the fractal designs around us actually look like: they can be either representational or abstract. Altogether, we have here the beginnings of a new way of interpreting how the visual environment affects our health.

Key words: fractals, biophilic design, healing environment, stress, ornament, cognitive resonance.

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Ecological Design for Dynamic Systems: Landscape Architecture’s Conjunction with Complexity Theory

Robert Mugerauer, Dean Emeritus, University of Washington, Departments of Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, and adjunct in Landscape Architecture. Box 355740, Seattle, Washington 98195 5740, U.S.A. Phone: +1-206-324-7946

Kuei-Hsien Liao, Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore, Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, 4 Architecture Drive, Singapore 117566 Phone: +65 6516-3532

Ecological design adequate to help resolve current social-environmental problems will have to engage organisms, ecosystems, and cities as far-from-equilibrium, open, self-organizing systems. Because these systems are inherently dynamic, with elements co-constituting one another, the goal of ecological design should not be a specific condition or end state. Rather, the entire network of processes, especially the positive feedback loops from which a given system’s self-organizing capacity emerges, needs to be maintained. Thus, the task of fully ecological design is to avoid interrupting or impairing a system’s ability to maintain or transform itself; or, as is increasingly necessary, enhancing or helping restore damaged ecosystem dynamics. Thankfully, landscape architecture and allied design disciplines and practices are developing greater capacity to facilitate dynamic adaptive processes—substantially contributing to a transition from a first to a second phase of ecological design that operationalizes the new paradigm of complexity theory. In order to continue the transformation we need to make explicit and integrate the fundamental dimensions of this shift and the implications for design. To present a clear description and analysis that also emphasizes the actual physical changes that make an ecological difference the essay uses examples concerning hydrologic flow regime and flooding.

Keywords: Ecological design, complexity theory, dynamic systems, self-organization, adaptive processes, hydrologic flow regime, flooding.

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Indigenous Urban Open Spaces as Public Infrastructures for Sustainable Cultural System in Ilawe-Ekiti, Nigeria

Joseph Akinlabi Fadamiro (1), Joseph Adeniran Adedeji, Rasaki Aderemi Ibrahim
Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
Department of Architecture
(1) Corresponding Author, joechrisdamiro@yahoo.com

The fast extinction of indigenous public open spaces in contemporary cities is one of the negative consequences of urbanisation. Since the physical environment is symbolically encoded, this development not only represents loss of infrastructural quality of cities but implies a change of value-system between the indigenous and the modern styles. Among the few conservation of the indigenous public open spaces and their value-system in Yoruba urbanization is Ilawe-Ekiti, Nigeria. This study therefore evaluates the value-system of some selected organized public open spaces in the city. The aim was to determine their significance towards formulation of sustainability framework. The primary data for the study was obtained through historical method, field survey and physical observation for multiple evidences as required of scientific enquiries. Qualitative results show that the spaces are material evidences of high indigenous value-system s in urban context. The study concludes with recommendations on the sustainable conservation of the spaces.

Keywords: urban open spaces, public infrastructure, indigenous value-system, cities, recreation.

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Soft Infrastructures for a Neo-Metabolism

Thomas Mical
University of South Australia
Associate Professor of Architecture

Designers’ universal impulse to naturalization deals today with reframing new approaches towards soft vs. hard biourban structures. Operative infrastructures generate organic creative futures, and oppose informal, serendipitous, innovative, and risky soft systems urbanism to hard design determinism. The emergency of a Biourbanism soft systems approach contrasts several Metabolist principles and practices, especially those favouring hard infrastructural platforms as fixed systemic cores and conduits. Biourbanism – a conceptual process of creative assemblage generating soft infrastructures – think of the hard-soft and risk-innovation couples, as ecologies. In this way, Biourbanism flourishes between multiple forces, modernities, and ecologies, by retrofitting urban situations where hard infrastructures are incomplete, ruined, or even lacking. It can integrate hardware, software, freeware, and wetware creatively through a thinking design of landscape, architecture, and urbanism, that has to operate also methodologically on multidisciplinary networks, and that can be called neo-Metabolism. Among its unconventional potentialities there are biourban acupuncture, nomadism, multi-effect linkages, biopolitical tactics.

Finally, Biourbanism has a revolutionary capacity within the biopolitical issues of identity and control, as soft systems can still bind and cage; and this challenges with responsibility its idealism and optimism.

Keywords: Biourbanism, Neo-Metabolism, Ecologies, Architecture, Soft Infrastructure, Soft Natural Systems, Informal Urbanism, Risk, Biopolitics.

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Towards in integrated approach to measuring and monitoring water in domestic building

Dexter Robinson, Jonathan Gates, Simon Walters, Kemi Adeyeye
University of Brighton
School of Environment and Technology
Cockcroft Building, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 4GJ. Phone: +44 (0) 1273 642949.
D.Robinson2@uni.brighton.ac.uk;  O.Adeyeye@brighton.ac.uk;  jrg3@brighton.ac.uk

Efficient water consumption has gained increasing priority in the move towards reducing the impact of human activity on the natural environment. A significant amount of the water abstracted from the natural environment is consumed directly in human activities such as washing and cleaning. Although, it is possible to estimate the amount of water supplied to fixtures such as taps and showers from manufacturer data, it is often difficult to monitor simply, cheaply and accurately, water use factors which can be used to inform customised water efficiency strategies in a building.
The aim of this study is to provide a literature review that explores and critically appraises the currently available data collection/instrumentation tools and techniques as a start to find a simplified yet integrated solution for measuring and monitoring the various dimensions e.g. physical, social, that inform and influence water use in domestic buildings.

Keywords: Water consumption, water use, measuring and monitoring, water technology performance, water efficiency.

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Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Consumption in Bangladesh

Ifte Choudhury, Associate Professor & Fulbright Scholar Department of Construction Science. Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-3137

Farzana Sultana, Project Manager Vaughn Construction, 10355 Westpark Drive Houston, Texas 77042

Bangladesh has continuously evolving problem with water supplies, not adequate to meet even the minimum requirements for potable water. Surface water is being incessantly contaminated by both industrial and human pollutions; rapidly increasing demands due to population explosion results in withdrawal of ground water at a faster rate than it is replenished by recharge. This problem can easily be mitigated through rainwater harvesting, taking advantage of high quantities of rainfall in the country. This study explores the possibility of rainwater harvesting for domestic consumption in urban areas of Bangladesh and proposes some guidelines to compute storage requirements. Based on these guidelines, computation methods for determining the quantities of rainwater available for collection in different urban regions of Bangladesh and adequacy of those quantities for residential consumption have been determined. These tools can be used for (1) determining the quantities of rainwater required for domestic consumption in urban areas of Bangladesh and (2) size of cisterns for storage of the rainwater.

Key words: Bangladesh, Computation of Water Requirements, Rainwater Harvesting.

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Supply and Demand of Potable Water in Australia and the United Kingdom. How climate change can affect the distribution of potable water supply

Lee Callaghan
Senior Project Manager Barhale plc. Unit 3, the Orient Centre Greycaine Road, Watford, Herts, WD24 7JT

This paper focuses on the increasing impact on water utility companies and the general public to conserve water in both Australia and the United Kingdom. The paper addresses the issues that, both countries face, relating to climate change and its effect on the supply and demand of potable water. Consideration has been taken into account the ways in which water utility companies in both countries deal with providing a potable water supply in drought conditions.
Whilst the ways in which each country deals with climate change and its effect on supply and demand requirements for potable water were similar, an underlining feature did distinguish itself throughout, mainly relating to both the government and public’s perception to water conservation in each country.

Keywords: Climate Change, Drought Contingency, Potable Water, Public perception, Water Conservation.

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The use of the water element in the energetics of Micro-urban development in Slovak Republic and Taiwan R.O.C.

Stefan Tkac (stefan.tkac@tuke.sk)
Technical University of Košice, Vysokoškolská u. 4, 042 00 Kosice, Slovakia. Department of Architecture and Building Constructions, Faculty of Civil Engineering,
Chung Hua University, No. 707, Sec.2, WuFu Rd., Hsinchu – 30012 Taiwan R.O.C.   College of Architecture and Urban Planning,

Zuzana Vranayova (zuzana.vranayova@tuke.sk)
Technical University of Košice, Vysokoškolská u. 4, 042 00 Kosice, Slovakia. Department of Architecture and Building Constructions, Faculty of Civil Engineering,

The unregulated development of micro-urban areas is underestimated in both cases, so are the energy issues bound with them. The proposed urban idea consists of energy resource decentralisation by means of a detailed focus on micro-urban development through the combination of accurate hydro distribution systems for direct energy production in a place of consumption as a part of the autarchic micro-urban grids arranged in “efficiency electric power grid circles“ calculated by loses in wiring. This urban energy model binds micro-urban structures in one solid network and at the same time creates local smart energy communities built up on each individual dwelling unit that can produce energy for itself from renewable resources locally available and support the local micro-urban public grid or even support the nearest city public grid. Proposed new multi-purpose small hydro type is one of the preliminary small scale systems that could be precisely tailored to micro-urban demands and partially support the proposed urban model.

Keywords: Energy, Micro Hydro, Water Turbine, Renewable resources, Water management.

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Diversity in Design

Vibhavari Jani, Diversity in Design: Perspectives from the Non-Western World, New York: Farichild, 2010

Review by Stefano Serafini

In his wonderful masterpiece The Nature of Order, Christopher Alexander refers often to Eastern architecture traditions and schools, both ancient and contemporary, e.g. indicating in Geoffrey Bawa one of the leading masters of a life-enhancing architecture (“the soul of our future architecture”, vol. 2nd, p. 141). Nevertheless, Alexander is long far from any form of “orientalism”, as defined by Edward Said in his classic work dated back to 1978. Alexander’s research is, on the contrary, devoted to grasping the blossom of human creativity, regardless of its external cultural forms, and the gorgeous iconographic display of his volumes shows it abundantly. He calls “life” the quality of design that is keen to every people as human being. This shouldn’t be confused with the search for a “global” or “universal” design, or, differently said, with a neo-colonialist view over the world through design. “Life” will always have a particular cultural feature. Particularity is the very fabric of alive things, and trying to reduce it to a common formula would mean destroying it – that is in fact what Enlightenment did, according to the analysis of Horkheimer and Adorno (Dialectic of Enlightenment, 1944). Not by chance, Alexander stresses that any good design process should unfold step by step, from the real, particular, and individual situation the designer has to deal with.

In her beautifully illustrated work, Vibhavari Jani, a scholar researching on special-purposed interior design for wounded people, an artist, and professor of architecture at Kansas State University, exhibits a similar attitude. Despite of the impression one may receive from the title of the book, her work is about all but romantic aesthetics and orientalism.

First, the book addresses a serious cultural lag in Western architecture academia, that lacks expertise in Asian, African, and Middle-eastern design trends, perspectives, and traditions. Jani refers especially to the civilizations that don’t belong to the Greco-Judaic-Christian horizon. Asian issue is probably the most relevant, due to the role that countries like China and India, with their 2.5 billion people, are playing already on the world stage, both in economics and culture. Of course, not all the “non-Western” world has been studied throughout the book. Research has been limited to India, China, Turkey, Egypt, UAE, Algeria and Nigeria, as these Countries are representative of outstanding and influencing architectural traditions.

Second, Author shows the need for being able to epistemologically shifting from a cultural system of values to another, in order to understand how different civilizations are actually shaping the present and the future, and how differently they shed light on architecture and its problems. Design should be learned and taught from different perspectives, and this means one should take care of the context, understanding the geography, the anthropology, and the history of a place before working on it – thus getting rid of otherwise unavoidable bias.

Third, Jani advocates the possibility of picking up different worldviews operatively in modern design (it’s relevant her attention to Vaastu Shastra), in order to learn solutions for future from the past, and find inspirations for new paths.

The book has won the 2012 Interior Design Educators Council Best Book/Media Award, because of the challenge it posed to most architectural and interior design university programs, that are still Eurocentric. This is a book for making Western education younger, able to go beyond its old borders, and ready to understand a wider 21st century world.