Taking an ecological approach is crucial in any design process, but in revitalizing a depressed neighborhood, it may be what turns things around. For this two week design charette, The studio was charged with finding an ecological solution for the vacant properties within the lower Doan Brook watershed. Through research and anylsis of the area and of ecological solutions, my group came up with an ecological landholding solution which would increase the value of the lot, as well as the neighborhood around it over time, making the lot and area more vibrant and marketable.
"Good ecological design should focus on correct spatial and temporal scales, simplicity, efficient use of resources, a close fit between means and ends, durability, redundancy, and resilience. Design, too, must be place specific. Design should focus on more than one problem at a times to avoid unwanted side effects." -James Karr
Unfortunately, so many of today's 'good designs' do not follow this methodology. With man's insatiable thirst to tame the wild, time and time again we design against nature, instead of with it. By looking for narrow sighted, short term solutions, we have consistently damaged our natural world, and the consequences are quickly catching up to us. Somewhere along the line, man became disconnected from the complex living systems that we so heavily rely on, and we have not been designing with this in mind.
"Human actions are often directed toward simplifying systems as we strive to concentrate production in those parts and processes we value most. Simplification often produces unexpected consequences. The resultant loss of complexity and diversity may threaten critical processes that provide utilitarian or functional value to humans. Loss of natural system integrity the all to common result."
By designing with nature, and using Karr's method of ecological thinking, we can restore our space in the complex network of ecology, and work to undo some of the damage to the natural environment that has already been done. By working with natural systems instead of against them, we, as well as all things living, will greatly benefit.
This unit of urban systems focuses on ecological design in Northeast Ohio, specifically the Doan Brook Watershed. My partner and I set out to map and document the site today, and thanks to the recent rainy weather, we were able to follow the water from headwaters in Beachwood, all the way to Lake Erie. It was remarkable to watch the path of water, and to note what situations and circumstances it encounters on its way down stream. As we followed the water, we were able to make many interesting connections and understandings. The path of water is something that is so overlooked, but it of such importance. My next blog post will highlight our findings through mappings and diagrams, and I will further discuss everything that we discovered.