Aug 8, 2009

Living With Nature

Recent encounters with several attention-grabbing proposals and works which involves urban greenery have led me to ponder on the question of we as humans living with nature. Despite having the world raising flags and banners in support of going green, going sustainable for so many years by now, by looking at these projects I somehow sense strongly that we don't really know how to just live with the nature around us.

High Line Park, New York, 2009.

High Line as seen in 2000, New York.

It isn't deniable that the recently completed High Line Park is quite a success. The park is an elevated deck on an urban scale which provides the public with a pleasant alternative hang-out spot. It elevates people from the ground, connects people from different points within the city, and fosters a new perspective towards the urbanscape in a way.

On the other hand, many feel (including myself) that the condition of the High Line in year 2000 was more moving than the current one. That was an eco-environment in a small scale resulted in nature's own action/reaction towards the city in its most natural manner due to the absence of human disturbance thoughout its shaping.
However, it seems to me that we couldn't live with the natural condition it had been and had to force a more 'human' character onto it. We paved a distinctive walkway for our pedastrian purpose and the plants had to make way for it, and then we categorize the plants into different patches. We are just creating yet another condition similar to the typology of a zoo, a conquered nature.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay, an eco-park project set to cover hectars of land around the Marina Bay in Singapore, is just a more exaggerating example that shouts the message of human efforts conquering nature heavily, rather than the prominence of nature itself.
As if humans aren't a part of the natural habitat, we seem trying our best to differentiate ourselves from the nature. We treat plants and animals as display items, and we go to parks like such not to be in the nature but to look at nature.

Is this what it means by going green, bringing back greeneries to our living realm?
I often question the sincerity behind schemes like the examples shown here (and more). Greenery and nature is obviously not the top priority of such projects but a branding part of it, while true goals are the attraction of tourists and profits etc. While in cases where we're true about reviving nature as part of our living spaces, I guess we hold different values with some not being able to comprehend the deeper problems lie in these over-celebrated examples we see today.

The Manhattan Airport, New York.

In an effort to realise yet another capitalist vision - an airport right in the middle of Manhattan replacing the renown Central Park, The Manhattan Airport Foundation has stated in their website (about Central Park) that, "Amazingly, there is still a large, undeveloped and underutilized site in the center of New York City. In fact, this site has remained undeveloped for so long that many of us forget it even exists."

And the solution is to replace it with an airport? Don't they understand a green space like that is the most valuable asset, the 'heart & soul' of a healthy and human lifestyle for people living in Manhattan? Imagine a park where you can breath in fresh air once in while, suddenly turn into a ground where you get arrested by trespassing.
Tavern On The Green in the airport food court & Strawberry Fields in the indoor concourse? These sounds rather like a hilarious joke for an 'effort' to conserve elements of the Central Park.
Natural green space for these people, is merely an empty plot yet to be made a money-making product.

Utilization of a space does not necessarily mean to build onto it. Development is the word of sin.
In times of overwhelming calls toward going green and going sustainable, we've clearly forgotten how we could live harmoniously with the nature, we've forgotten that we can actually step into, and run about in the field! (hence the so well-designed garden pavements)

Long time ago, humans moved into the forest, found an empty spot and built themselves shelter; Today, plants move into the metropolis built upon the land they once owned, find themselves an empty pot to live in it.

An audience questioned in a forum, "Do you think this is the future of our planet?"

I think we are on the right track when we can finally say "It is just enough."

posted by afterrabbit

1 comment:

afterrabbit said...

owh i just admire environmental engineers who can transform a mining lake into a working wetland ecosystem that seems so natural that we don't know it's designed, and which never once get published in a design/architecture magazine.
They are the great designers.


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