University of Twente Student Theses


The urban ecosystem : designing the future of cities from an eco-centric perspective

Geijn, S.A. van (2021) The urban ecosystem : designing the future of cities from an eco-centric perspective.

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Abstract:The city as an urban ecosystem is a thought provoking concept providing an alternative perspective on designing the city of the future. The context of this thesis is the research on the role of cities in the human-induced environmental change. The urban ecosystem seeks for a definition of urban environments as a network of dependencies between humans, nonhumans, and the environment. This opposes traditional interpretations of a city as a place for the flourishing of human well-being. In anthropocentric decision making in urban areas tradeoffs between human and nonhuman needs are often made unconsciously, and are therefore too often, devastating for nonhuman life. The goal of the thesis is to seek a different approach to these trade-offs wherein the values of health and flourishing are inclusive to both human and non-human living. The urban ecosystem adopts an eco-centric value system to enable the equalisation of human needs to the ecosystem’s needs. One of the main theories used is the Deep Ecologist’s theory, that subscribes to the interdependency between life and land, and formulates a set of core values including 'richness and diversity, communal thinking, and harmony’ (Naess, 2009). Moreover, the eco-centric, and this turn specifically the eco-feminist, thought, eliminates patriarchal concepts of human domination on urban areas (Haraway, 2013). One of their main claims says all animals, including humans, are dependent on each other and their shared habituation, in order to sustain (ibid). I add upon these eco-centric theories the concern that the urban ecosystem is a place of high human density and influence and that this influence cannot be neglected when making decisions in urban ecosystems but can also not be the sole driver of change. This thesis states that all professionals working in urban design and decision-making need to consider how to sustain and benefit to the ecosystem’s health. Urban decision-making and design has to be performed through well-balanced tradeoffs between human needs in context of the needs of the ecosystem.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:43 environmental science
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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