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Urban Ecology

Urban Ecology

The process of territorialisation of Nord has been guided by the idea of a just realizable society. Recent changes in the structure of economy and in the structure of society went along with a radical transformation of cities and territories. The image of a mosaic of diverse build-up space and open spaces intertwining in patterns of concentration and dispersion emerge over vast areas. This spatial condition of dispersion is global, widespread and diverse and it results from innumerable separated decision, each in itself rational and planned (Forman 1996, Sieverts 1997).  

The physical change of cities and territories also generated new interlocking problems of the environment, mobility and justice. This state constitute a `new urban question´ (Secchi 2010) that put the `Scandinavian´ project at risk. Responsibility of the designer is the definition of analytical and design tools for the concrete modification and improvement. However, there is a growing recognition of that, paradoxically, design practices aiming at solving problems as also worse them. The new urban question call for a rapid transition toward a different model (conceptual and operational), as a tool that fits the potentials the Nordic context in order to move towards the desired direction. However, presently, this process is slow and fragmented. 

At AHO the institute of urbanism and landscape address the role of ecology in urbanism. An ecological approach to urbanism, based on broad interpretation of ecology as the study of interaction between society and its physical environment. Understanding and imagine the carrying conditions of the city and territory as ecosystem offer an encompassing conceptual model to all actors involved in the process of spatial modification: designers, researchers, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and citizens. Conditions are physical and organizational structures (roads and rules) for a more sustainable interaction between society and its physical environment and therefore pivotal for all spaces of activities (residential, industrial, agriculture, leisure, mixed..). Activities interact if they share the same area, if the share the same flow (traffic, water…) or if they are actor in the same organization. Therefore an ecological approach to urbanism looks at the `interaction field´ of `areas, flows and actors´. The focus on interaction stimulate a learning process that make pivotal the role of design as reflective activity at all scales and across `high culture´ of the experts and `low culture´ of diverse social groups (Tjallingii 1996). 

An ecological approach to urbanism is a key tool for framing challenges and possible answer to the new urban question. The institute of urbanism and landscape at AHO gives to role of design-oriented knowledge production (studio and research) a pivotal position. The focused on `reflexion in action´ and interaction makes the concept of sustainability more operational and render AHO a key player in the process of re-definition of analytical and design tools for the concrete modification and improvement of the state of Nordic city and territory.