Below is an extract from the introductory editorial by Eleni Tracada to issue 2 of the Journal of BioUrbanism. It gives a good introduction to the contents of this issue. This is followed by a sample research paper on the use of public space in Nigeria.
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Prof. Nikos Salingaros’ paper gave me the opportunity to discuss with him on a topic which is very dear to me personally as a scholar and to my postgraduate students as well; that is the topic on fractal dimensions having even healing power on human bodies and minds. In his important paper with the title Fractal Art and Architecture reduce Physiological Stress, Prof. Salingaros proves that human beings respond in a very positive way to fractals, as these appear and appeal to human perception in a variety of their manifestations. Prof. Salingaros has based his discussion not only on his own scientific evidence and experience, but also on other authors and scientists’ findings, especially during the last few decades of rapid technological developments in digitalisation in arts and architecture. As a result of his valuable research, the author affirms that, euphoria is the result of sensational experiences of human beings in direct contact with fractal landscapes; whereas stress can be sensed when minimalist environments are completely sterile of fractal geometries and patterns. In the last couple of years, I had the opportunity personally to carry out several short workshops/projects with my students and tested Prof. Salingaros’ ideas and formulas on Thermodynamics of the built environment; we have managed to get very significant findings and we hope to carry on this direction in order to develop useful tools to be easily used in proposed and scientifically and sustainably planned either new districts of cities or areas of regeneration. With his article, in this current issue, Prof. Salingaros offers us the chance to see how from a real biophilic environment and by transforming it into abstract design, we risk getting people extremely stressed rather than happily excited. Then, my students and I shall be eager to use his suggestions on fractal dimensions and see how especially fractal gaskets can create comfortable architectural 3D spaces, not necessarily flat decorative horizontal or perpendicular surfaces. Nevertheless, this article can really give us a lot of elements to play with, test and enjoy.
In their Ecological Design for Dynamic Systems: Landscape Architecture’s Conjunction with Complexity Theory, Prof. Robert Mugerauer and Prof. Kuei-Hsien Liao also affirm that, ecological design is directly linked to self-organising organisms, ecosystems and cities; this is the kind of design to help us resolve current social and economic problems. According to these two authors the ecosystems’ self-organizing capacity should be maintained unaltered and uninterrupted in such a manner that, damaged ecosystems dynamics should be continuously preserved and restored within an operational new paradigm of complexity theory. The importance of this paper again is that, the authors have used examples of hydrologic flow regime and flooding to test scientifically ecological designs; the authors talk about complexity theory by explaining resilience, adaptation, plasticity and related concepts and also discuss in detail the impact of this theory to ecology and design. This is a valuable paper, highlighting that, design work which is based upon complexity theory does not only follow universal formula or set of rules by incorporating the critical variables of initial historical conditions, but also encompasses pre-existing landscape properties and life cycles in never-ending interactive processes of growth, decline, new assembly and dissipation.
Then, we find again with pleasure another interesting paper by Joseph Akinlabi Fadamiro, Joseph Adeniran Adedeji, and Rasaki Aderemi Ibrahim on Indigenous urban open spaces as public infrastructures for sustainable cultural system in Ilawe-Ekiti, Nigeria. These authors discuss about urban open spaces in relationship to public infrastructure and indigenous value-system in cities in Nigeria; they debate on the fast loss of indigenous public open spaces and their negative effects in urbanisation. The research and study as a whole focuses mainly on how these important spaces could be sustainably safeguarded. The scholars seem to be extremely keen to support an incessant protection of these important cultural spaces, which again shows that landscapes and cityscapes should be always considered as valuable manifestation of harmonious continuation of human life in any part of the globe.
I should like also to mention the fact that, four papers included in this issue have been especially peer reviewed and selected by Editor’s choice after having been submitted to be presented and included in the Water Efficiency (Watef) Conference 2013, with the title Innovation through Cooperation; this conference was organised by the University of Brighton, UK and took place in Oxford from 25th to 27th March 2013. I am a member of the Waterwise/Watef Network established in 2011 and I was especially invited by Dr. Kemi Adeyeye, Watef Network Coordinator, in the Conference Scientific Committee; I had the opportunity to take part in blind peer review processes and finally select the papers included in this current issue, as follows:
In their paper Towards in integrated approach to measuring and monitoring water in domestic building, Dexter Robinson, Jonathan Gates, Simon Walters and Kemi Adeyeye discuss why the impact of human activity on the natural environment is so damaging by only considering water consumption in dwellings nowadays. The authors propose that it is necessary to monitor simply, cheaply and accurately, water use factors which can be used to inform customised water efficiency strategies in a building. Thus, the authors investigate on water technology performances and water efficiency in contemporary dwellings; they also refer to climate change and human behaviours to be adequately adapted to this in order to preserve efficient supplies of water, our most precious natural element to preserve human life on this planet.
Ifte Choudhury and Farzana Sultana, in their Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Consumption in Bangladesh, explain to us why water supplies have suffered in Bangladesh by industrial and human effect pollution; the authors explore the possibility of rainwater harvesting for domestic consumption in urban areas and propose guidelines to compute storage requirements. Their guidelines may also form a useful tool/model for rain harvesting in cities in Bangladesh in desperate need of water supplies.
In his Supply and Demand of Potable Water in Australia and the United Kingdom. How climate change can affect the distribution of potable water supply, Lee Callaghan focuses on the increasing impact on water utility companies and their customers to conserve water in both countries; the author compares and addresses common and non-common issues and discusses mainly public perception on water conservation.
In their The use of the water element in the energetics of Micro-urban development in Slovak Republic and Taiwan R.O.C., Stefan Tkac and Zuzana Vranayova discuss issues related to unregulated growth and energy consumption in some small city districts; they propose new multi-purpose hydro types to fit micro-urban demands and preserve both water and energy production methods used via efficient power grid circles in cities. This is an interesting article which considers both water and electricity uses according to specific planned urban systems in micro and macro scales.
And finally, we have got an interesting and perhaps fairly controversial article by Dr. Thomas Mical, who talks about Soft Infrastructures for a Neo-Metabolism. We may say that the author attempts to explain, according to his own understanding and analysis, how Biourbanism encompasses Soft natural systems thinking, or at least, how close Biourbanism could be with an interplay of systems, intersecting architecture, infrastructure, and landscape urbanism. I am sure that this paper will trigger a sparkling debate between scholars. But, having been teaching in the department of the Built Environment for several years, I feel that, this is the time to talk about hard infrastructures in cities and how these could fit in urban design and planning today without obstruction to ordinary human life in cities. However, I believe that, architecture, civil engineering and urbanism should cooperate in order to establish new regulations, which would allow for self-organisation of communities and would guarantee fractal harmonious developments in social-economical and urban growth simultaneously.