Developing an Environmentally Sustainable City Through Re-Creating Landscape with Abandoned Industrial Structures

Topics: Sustainability, Sustainable development, Construction Pages: 7 (3074 words) Published: August 28, 2013
Developing an environmentally sustainable city through re-creating landscape with abandoned industrial structures.

The problem of abandoned structures contributing to a large amount of construction waste has long been recognized; it becomes an environmental threat and severely affects the sustainability of a city. However, the conventional urban planning system does not account for this problem, this will result in an endless negative loop of environmental pollution and resource depletion. A new sustainable approach should be used to address the arising issues regarding to sustainability. The paper will discuss the role of landscape architecture in a city as a planning instrument for sustainable development and High Line, New York will be explored in detail about how by preserving and re-using structure relics, abandoned industrial structures can be transformed into new green public parks that enhances the environmental sustainability of the New York city.

Urban planning plays a critical role in maintaining the resilience and increasing the quality of life in cities. Imagine a city with only conventional planning, in which it only deals with zoning, public facility, and transportation, not yet addresses issues of sustainability and awareness of pollutions. The city will continue to consume energy in an endless manner, consuming water, fuel and furthermore the non-renewable construction materials like steel, concrete, stone, and timber. Without a carefully thought out sustainable approach, the resources will just go into landfills and pollute the river streams and air and can never be retrieved again. This will deplete the natural resources and worsen the living environment for both human being and the ecosystem. This negative cycle could only have gone worse and worse. Instead, why not approach planning in sustainable ways? Turning process into a cyclic one? Adopting the cradle-to-cradle methodology in planning, and develop the city into where waste equals food, so every waste becomes the nutrient of another production cycle. One of the tactics could be re-using existing abandoned structure and redevelop it into new sustainable landscape architecture.

Currently, approximately 1/3 of waste are produced from construction and demolition waste and “over 90% of non-energy minerals extracted in the UK are used for construction materials, yet every year some 70 million tonnes of construction and demolition materials and soil end up as waste, 13 million tonnes of which comprise material delivered to sites and thrown away unused (Richie 2011,pp.78).” It is clear that the inefficiency in construction industry is causing a huge waste problem, and the waste must be treated carefully to avoid pollution. Wastes can be treated in many different ways; one of the “sustainable” ways would be recycling. In order to do so, the most important step would be on site separation, which is making sure the waste could be up cycled and is durable to be used as construction material again, but it requires huge costs and skilled labours therefore it is usually not economically feasible. Unfortunately, in many cases, the constructions materials are in hybrid with other materials, resulting in the lost of its original properties, thus are not durable enough to be used as raw materials again. As the result, the present way of down cycling depletes the natural resources, and pollutes the soil and stream with landfill.

To change the cradle to grave cycle into a cradle-to-cradle life cycle for abandoned structures, landscape architecture is one of the instruments to implement this concept. Landscape architecture as a planning instrument allows the idea of transforming relics into something green, which it could enhance the environmental sustainability of a city. Landscape architecture is not merely about “prettification of the city; it is about creating value of a place. It is about changing perception of the value(Hume, 2012)” of public space,...

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