In modern times, efforts to construct sustainable alternative neighbourhood scale developments date to isolated voluntary initiatives in 1970s Europe and the United States. Since about 2006, they have increased rapidly in popularity. They now go by many names: ecodistricts, écoquartiers, eco-cities, zero/low-carbon/carbon-positive cities, ecopolises, ecobarrios, One Planet Communities, and solar cities. They have become frames—sometimes the dominant frame—used to orient the construction of new pieces of a city in a growing number of countries. Despite numerous standardization efforts, the field of ecourban neighbourhood planning and practice lacks a consistent cross-cultural understanding of what constitutes meaningful ecourbanism in specific economic, political, ecological, social, and design-based terms. Ecourban neighbourhood projects also respond to strictly local challenges and opportunities and express themselves in fragmented ways in different contexts. This article presents an original typology of ecourbanism as the integration of seven extreme type principles. We developed this typology through an abductive approach, or the back and forth testing of observed practices with arguments advanced in theories of sustainable development, planning and urban studies. While ecourban neighbourhood developments by definition express integrative goals, this typology permits assessment of the extent to which outcomes are being achieved in terms of each specific principle. We define and present a limiting case for each of these extreme type principles. Rather than attempting to render different standards equivalent across national contexts, this typology-based approach to understand the outcomes of ecourban neighbourhood developments promises a means to facilitate orienting these developments toward higher levels of integration within a common set of principled boundaries, as they are developed around the world.
Crafting New Urban Assemblages and Steering Neighborhood Transition: Actors and Roles in Ecourban Neighborhood Developme...Published: 31 March 2015 by OpenEdition in Articulo – revue de sciences humaines
New sustainable neighborhood developments are multiplying worldwide. Embedded in these model neighborhoods are not only particular ideas about better urban form, but also particular ideas about better organization of urban governance and development responsibilities, and how these guide social development and, ultimately, urban life. Numerous frameworks, certifications, and labels have emerged from a range of organizations and actors, intending to offer a level of predictability and certainty in what is included in a sustainable neighborhood, but the majority of these frameworks have yet to be implemented in more than a handful of cases. In this article, we consider two “second generation” ecourban neighborhood frameworks, the Living Community Challenge and EcoDistricts Protocol. We examine these frameworks in terms of seven principles of ecourbanism, and consider the potential of each to guide practice toward an extreme in any particular dimension, or toward an integrated approach. Next, building upon a conceptualization of the demand for intermediary organizations in managing transitions toward urban sustainability, we examine the emergence of these frameworks as they are playing or could play an intermediary or ‘backbone’ role, in building towards collective impact in the realm of ecourbanism. Intermediaries are necessary to advance the practice of transition because none of the key actor groups, while they are necessary and instrumental to bringing particular ecourban neighborhoods into being, are invested with any particular role, responsibility or power to spread the practice of ecourbanism more broadly. Top of page
Neighbourhood scale sustainability districts are coming to serve a growing role in urban sustainability strategies (Barton 2000; Barton et al. 1995; Taylor 2000; Winston 2009; Jabareen 2006). In modern times, efforts to construct sustainable alternative neighbourhood scale developments date back to isolated voluntary initiatives in 1970s Europe and the United States. In the past decade, however, ecodistricts, écoquartiers, eco-cities, zero/low-carbon/carbon-positive cities, ecopolises, One Planet Communities and solar cities, have become frames – sometimes the dominant frame -- used to justify and orient the construction of new pieces of city in a growing range of countries worldwide (Joss et al. 2013; Chang and Sheppard 2013). This paper documents our work to catalogue such eco-urban developments worldwide. The catalogue we have produced provides evidence that eco-urban developments today are part of a movement toward green global cosmopolitanism (Blok, 2012), but that nonetheless expresses itself in fragmented ways in different world regions. That is, eco-urban developments are being pursued, increasingly, based on standardized models and forms which are coming to redefine relevant and meaningful sustainability efforts in specific economic, political, social and design-based terms. In so doing, they are changing the solution set we associate with sustainable development and even the characterization of the problem of unsustainability at the same time as they change the face of our cities. Our catalogue of eco-urban developments around the world serves as a first step to a deeper understanding of these dynamics and trends at global and regional scales.