Cities and nature

August 28th, 2003 § Two comments

From Kevin Lynch, in Good City Form:

The affection for nature and the desire to be close to natural, living things are sentiments very widely held throughout the urbanized world. Settlements built according to the organic rule are attractive to us chiefly because they allow for this close contact. It is less tenable, however, that nature is what is nonhuman, and that the farther one gets from people and civilization, the more natural one becomes. By that rule, wilderness is more natural than hunting camp, hunting camp than farm, and farm than city. But people and their cities are as much natural phenomena as trees, streams, nests, and deer paths. It is crucial that we come to see ourselves as an integral part of the total living community.

In case you’re curious, the “organic rule” refers to the type of city favored by people like Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park, and Lewis Mumford. Their ideal cities are heavy on parks and other open space.

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