Call For Submissions: Scenario 4, Building the Urban Forest

Building the Urban Forest

Scenario 4: Building the Urban Forest

The forest carries deep cultural significance. Within the urban landscape, this ecologically complex, spatially layered, dynamic system is also understood to perform a wide range of essential ecosystem services, from increasing property values to mitigating climate change. Reforesting cities is one of the defining trends of twenty first century urbanism, but there is little agreement about how our urban forests are to be designed, planned and managed.

As arborists, parks departments, landscape architects, planners and community groups engage in the reforesting of cities, how are they collectively shaping the urban landscape? How do we quantify the benefits of urban forests? Where should we focus our attention and effort — streetscapes, backyards, vacant lots, woodlots, parks, highway medians or large remnant tracts? What hybrid ecosystems are yet to be designed? How many trees are enough? A million? What makes a forest urban?

Scenario Journal welcomes the submission of critical essays, provocations, and design projects that explore the topic of building the urban forest.

 

Submission Requirements:

  • We accept pieces in a range of formats including academic essays, op-eds and built or unbuilt projects.
  • Article-based submissions should range in length from 2500 to 4000 words and be formatted in the Chicago Manual of Style with all sources clearly documented.
  • Design projects should have a clear and focused text no longer than 1000 words, accompanied by 6-10 images.
  • Send submissions to mail@scenariojournal.com, with ‘ISSUE 4′ in the subject line. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • DEADLINE: Submissions are due November 1, 2013. All submissions after that date will be accepted on a rolling basis. If you have an idea or project in process, please submit your intention or outline as early as possible.

 

Las Vegas and the Downtown Project: A Photo Tour

Last week, Tech Cocktail and the Downtown Project invited a small group of tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and city enthusiasts (like Landscape Urbanism) to take a look at the projects and grounds of the new Downtown Project area in Las Vegas. I also gave a quick 10-minute talk on questions about the future of cities (forthcoming), but in the meantime, here’s a visual assortment of photographs from both the city-at-large as well as the downtown areas, generally.

Greater Las Vegas: Residential Patterns (and Aerial Photographs)

Flying in from San Francisco, here’s a couple of photos of the cityscape from the airplane window:

01

Looking towards the airport and the strip, offset in the background. One of the main visual characteristics of Las Vegas is the desert landscape and the mountains surrounding the flat, tan lands. Note the patchwork of development in the foreground and the scattered suburban developments. 

02

Residential suburban housing is an easy pattern to pick up from an aerial view: organized, repetitive, single-colored rooftops.  Continue reading

Going National: Urban Issues and the Public Debate

With four-fifths of Americans living in urban areas, we are a nation of cities, yet this is not the narrative you’re likely to hear in our national political conversation. As a result, urban policy doesn’t get the debate it deserves. But as U.S. cities change and evolve, it may finally be time for urban issues to become something that both parties care about.

In media reports and stump speeches, you’ll hear that true American identity resides in the heartland, on Main Street, in our farms and small towns—and in our ubiquitous suburbs. The suburbs are the political battlegrounds where the parties vie for attention, so it is no surprise that suburban issues, like the price of gasoline, get a voice, while more “urban” concerns, like public transportation or infrastructure planning, get short shrift.

A recent op-ed in The New York Times by Kevin Baker, titled “How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party,” gives a great history of how this perceived bifurcation between cities and the rest of America came to be, why it is problematic, and why its days may be numbered. Continue reading

The Call For A Post-Informal Landscape Urbanism

“There are an estimated 200,000 informal settlements around the world. Moreover, one of every three urban dwellers currently lives in informal settlements, otherwise (and wrongly) known as ‘slums.’ What is the future of the city after the influx of informal settlements?”

There are an estimated 200,000 informal settlements around the world similar–and sometimes much worse–than La Moran, in Caracas Venezuela (pictured above).

“Post-Industrial” is widely regarded as the primary condition that appears throughout much of Landscape Urbanism literature in its attempt to reformulate contemporary city-making following the industrial booms of the past centuries. While it is important to recycle, re-use and reconsider sites of this nature, it is also important to consider other “post” conditions and projects.

Landscape Urbanism has to move on from defining what it is to what it can do; from theory to praxis, from book to built. Instead of being limited to the endless task of defining and arguing for the relevance of its initial conceptualizations, it is the job of designers to find new areas onto which this new approximation can have a successful implementation. Through this thinking, we can find other “post-” conditions, one of which has an immense sense of urgency and potential in today’s world: “Post-Informal”.

Population Growth and City Projections

Four years ago, the world reached a significant milestone: 3.3 billion human beings live in cities, making this planet’s human population predominantly urban. Yet, the importance of this milestone is not just that an ever-growing population lives in cities, but how they live in cities. One of every three urban dwellers currently lives in informal settlements, otherwise (and wrongly) known as “slums”. Informal settlements are usually characterized as poor areas that come about outside the margins of any legal urban planning, usually constructed by means of self-help housing that tap into the existing services and infrastructures of the city. This urban phenomenon should be regarded as one of the most important characteristics of modern urban development because of the impact it has on landscape, environment, social components, existing cities and infrastructure. Continue reading