Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment

Article excerpt

Ingrid Leman Stefanovic and Stephen Bede Scharper (eds), The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 356 pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-1-44261-102-3.

This collection of essays discusses possible meetings of nature and the city. Peter Timmerman echoes the starting point of many in this volume by suggesting that a 'Western cultural tradition has consistently seen the city and nature (often "the country") in moral and mutually exclusionary categories' (p. 65). The consequent working through of these core terms takes place across many terrains, both intellectual and geographical. Essays in the collection demonstrate an eclectic outlook, drawing on theology, urban planning, philosophy and behavioural psychology to name but a few. Timmerman's own contribution explores the literary history of cities as a way of understanding formal barriers that might impede the conceptualising of a natural city. As this might suggest, while focusing on the core themes, each essay has a differing ideal reader with some more clearly oriented towards urban governance, while others function as broader attempts to unpick the historical theoretical boundaries conjured in the volume's title.

W.S.K. Cameron proposes an interesting bridge between nature and the city by focusing on the 'success' of the city. Examining success provokes a consideration of the various values sought through every urban society. Cameron asserts that conventional methods of measuring urban success obscure a holistic understanding of nature, prioritising everything from economic productivity to liveability while finding scarce mention of any given city's 'natural capital' (p. 38). Such an essay is provocative, wide-ranging in its source material, thinking through an application of Nietzsche, the dominance of plastic and our fundamental attraction to constructing permanence from impermanent materials. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.