HUMAN SYSTEMS Geoffrey West articulated that cities are the “crucible of civilization”. They are expanding at an exponential rate - every week more than 1 million people are added to a city, and by the second part of this century the planet will be dominated by cities. (West 2011) The built environment occupies a large portion of the earth’s surface and is vast in scale (Kibert et al. 2002, p. 1), having a lifespan that lasts for a mere 50–100 years (Mazria 2010,p. 1). The urban environment is accountable for both social and environmental problems. It creates vast proportions of waste, material and energy use and green house gas emissions (Doughty and Hammond, 2004). Humanity has just crossed a major landmark in its history with the majority of people now living in cities (UN World Urbanization Prospects 2004). A study on the science of cities undertaken by relating urbanisation to economic development and knowledge creation are very general, being shared by all cities belonging to the same urban system.” (Bettencourt et al. 2007)
The present worldwide trend toward urbanization is intimately related to economic development and to profound changes in social organisation, land use, and patterns of human behavior. The demographic scale of these changes is unprecedented (UN World Urbanization Prospects 2004) and will lead to important but as of yet poorly understood impacts on the global environment. By 2030, the urban population of developing countries is expected to more than double to 4 billion, with an estimated 3-fold increase in occupancy of land area (3), whereas in developed countries it may still increase by as much as 20%. To sustain such rapid urbanization there is a necessity for significant innovation in urban planning, design and planting practices in order to establish a balance between human development needs and the planet’s environmental limits. Bettencourt et al. 2007)
A shift in design thinking is needed in order to “move to a sustainable way of living within environmental limits over the next few decades, allowing for continued human development and population growth, while adapting to climate change impacts.” (Head 2008, p. 5).
Biomimetic Design for Landscape Architecture