Eleni Tracada
University of Derby
Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology

One particularly gratifying aspect of this issue is the presence of papers, which clearly refer to the main themes of Biourbanism.
The contributions of the authors for this first issue have been selected attentively in order to facilitate the beginning of refined discussions on these themes; the main intention is to generate a fine line upon which, either theoretical and/or scientific advancements on Biourbanism could be easily disseminated to vast expert audiences worldwide.

In his paper Biophilia and Gaia: Two Hypotheses for an Affective Ecology, Dr. Giuseppe Barbiero introduces Affective Ecology, which is primarily concerned with emotional relationships between human beings and the rest of the living world and also elucidates our affiliation to Mother Earth, Gaia (The Gaia Hypothesis), hence our natural relationship with Biophilia, our inherent inclination to focus upon life and life-like forms (The Biophilia Hypothesis).

In the second paper with the title Green infrastructure planning: A contemporary approach for innovative interventions in urban landscape management, Dr Ian C. Mell explains the importance of green infrastructure and how specific interventions according to this central approach to landscape planning in the UK, Europe and North America meet the challenges of population growth, transport and recreational needs with intend to support economic growth.

In their paper How to investigate and improve legibility of urban projects to make them understandable for blind people? Contribution of Social and Behavioural Sciences Methods to Design for All Approach, Ewa Kuryłowicz and Zuzanna Bogucka report and analyse legibility of urban space by referring to cognitive tactile maps, which can help blind people to move freely in certain spatial systems at design stage of Olympia Park in Berlin.

In Amiyo R. Ruhnke’s paper Stormwater management: Designing urban hydrological systems as infrascapes, we learn about water infrastructure, which has been designed as networked natural systems, such as the self-organizing systems of mycelia fungi applied to a site in New Orleans in order not only to improve the quality of the open space, but also to link storm water management with engineering and urban design strategies (urban landscape as a continuous infrascape).

And finally in her Sustainable refurbishment as a driving factor of urban regeneration, Evgenia Budanova discusses advantages of the process of refurbishment and how this may affect the environment and urban fabric; this author has revised a successful case study of sustainable refurbishment of an industrial building in Moscow with the use of TAS software to confirm that, a dwelling in that refurbished industrial building is now capable to consume less energy than a conventional one.

It has been a great pleasure to act as Editor in Chief of this issue and I should like to thank all the authors who have taken the time and effort to produce the published papers. However, I should also like to thank those authors who submitted papers, which did not attain the review process before the publication deadline. Therefore, I look forward to seeing also these papers published in our next issues in the near future.
I also believe that many interesting issues have been raised in each of the papers by all authors. Thus, I am convinced that all these issues are likely to get further debate. I should also like to encourage all readers and scholars to participate in additional written discussions and papers in the near future, if they wish, so that indisputable developments of the discipline of Biourbanism could take place at any time, as an incessant evolution of its principles and practices.

A note by the President of the International Society of Biourbanism

Antonio Caperna, PhD
Roma Tre University
Facoltà di Architettura

As President of the International Society of Biourbanism, I’m happy to welcome the first volume of Journal of Biourbanism. I am grateful to the editor in chief, Eleni Tracada, to my colleagues Archana Sharma, Alessia Cerqua and Stefano Serafini as co-editors and, of course, to all the contributors, for this important achievement.
The International Society of Biourbanism was born in September 2010, by a group of international researchers, aimed at unfolding the theoretical basis for a new human-oriented built environment.
Many things happened during this first year! One of this is JBU, a key component of ISB activity. It aims to bring together theories, models and new design processes, but also wants to offer a platform for high-quality research, theory making, education, and practice.
We are to face several challenges, and the “battlefield” will be the city. In the last decades, we have attended some incredible historical events: world urban population has overcome the number of rural inhabitants for the first time ever; environmental problems, and climate change, have risen dramatically; strategic role of fossil energy is challenged, together with its economic and social implications; globalization changed the world order; digital technology entered our lives; etc. We cannot face these epical challenges by using obsolete tools, both in scientific as well as in policies terms.
In this scenario, JBU aims to represent something new. Its first task is about finding a new research methodology to be applied to the urban challenge.
Still today, the dominant paradigm handle the many problems associated with urban growth and global sustainability, as independent issues. Existing assessment models are based on outdated scientific patterns, that analyze cities and their features as separated and disconnected pieces. But cities are complex systems, whose infrastructural, economic and social components are strongly interrelated, and it’s therefore impossible to understand them separately. The result is an ineffective policy, often leading to unfortunate and sometimes disastrous unintended consequences.
This disastrous result require a rethinking of the manner in which we analyze and plan the urban environments, and Biourbanism is our scientific answer. It is a science focusing on the urban environment, considering it as a hyper-complex living organism. It interacts with its internal structure as well as with the external dynamics. This means that the urban body is composed of several interconnected layers of dynamic structures, all influencing each other in a non-linear manner. This interaction results in emergent properties, which are not predictable except through a dynamical analysis of the connected whole.
This scientific approach links Biourbanism to life and integrated systems sciences, like biology, ecology, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, operations research. The similarity of approach lies not only in the common methodology, but also in the content of the results (hence the prefix “bio”), because the city represents the living environment of the human species.
Our goal, as Biourbanists, is recognizing the “optimal forms”, defined at different scales (from the purely physiological up to the ecological levels) which, through morphogenetic processes, guarantee an optimum of systemic efficiency and for the quality of life of the
Biourbanism is based on the following groundwork: (i) Epistemic foundation and the needed scientific paradigm shift, (ii) New Life sciences, as biological roots of architecture and urbanism; (iii) peer to peer urbanism, as an innovative way of conceiving, constructing, and repairing the city; (iv) morphogenetic design processes, based on real recognition of “optimal forms”, defined at different feedback scales (from physiological, to ecological), which, through morphogenetic processes, guarantee an optimal systemic efficiency, and therefore of the quality of life.
The above “corpus” shows a completely different way in which we consider and interact with the urban environment. From a scientific point of view, this open new fascinating research scenarios.
Towns and cities represent the living environment of the human species. Thus, it is fundamental create a design able to reinforce the urban structure according with our biological and neurophysiological requirements.
In this cultural context JBU aims to play a leading role where, research workers and scholars, from several fields such as mathematics, physics, biology, neurophysiology, architecture and urbanism, can contribute for a better urban environment and a future full of hope for humankind.

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

Robert J. KoesterDownload full Text