Sustainable Urbanism Revisited: A Holistic Framework Based on Tradition and Contemporary Orientations

Sustainable Urbanism Revisited: A Holistic Framework Based on Tradition and Contemporary Orientations

Derya Oktay (Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4852-4.ch095
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At a time of uncontrolled globalization in which serious environmental problems are threatening cities and their inhabitants, as cultural integrity is constantly under attack and many cities lack socially inclusive and responsive environments, there is an urgent need for a radical shift towards a holistic strategy for sustainable urbanism combining ecological sustainability and socio-cultural sustainability. This calls for sensitivity to the traditional urbanism and impact of global ideas, practices, and technologies on local social and cultural practices. In line with these, this chapter aims to establish an environmentally sound and human friendly framework for sustainable urbanism. In this context, the study firstly provides a conceptual understanding of sustainable urbanism and a critical review of its philosophical and practical framework; secondly, it provides an assessment of contemporary approaches to sustainable urbanism; thirdly, the chapter analyses the traditional Turkish (Ottoman) city which provides valuable clues for sustainable development, and discusses possible research directions that could help promote the concept of sustainable urbanism.
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Background: A Critical Review Of Contemporary Approaches To Sustainable Urbanism

The concept of “sustainability” in its modern sense emerged in the early 1970s in response to a dramatic growth in understanding that modern development practices were leading to worldwide environmental and social crises. During the seventies and eighties, the word “sustainability” used to be connected with the quotation from the Brundlant Report “development which meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to achieve their own needs and aspirations” (WCED, 1987). Over the decades, that definition has attracted a lot of discussions. Adams (1990) has criticized the Brundlant Commission’s approach for being too accommodating to the interests of the industrialized nations and for not questioning the desirability of continued economic growth. Hence, the notion later developed to describe the goal of integrating concerns and analyses that join economic development and ecological health (Eid, 2003). Hereafter, the notion of endurance and continuity was thought to be the domain of natural science that studied environmental measures to ensure that controlled growth meant that we use the earth in a way that endowed the same rights for future generations. Falling beyond the realm of natural science, the city, the community and their concerns were treated as separate entities, rather than being incorporated into the sustainability context (Haughton & Hunter, 1994; Berg, Magilavy & Zuckerman, 1990). What is more, most of the literature viewed the city and urban living as detrimental to the natural environment and hence a challenge to sustainable development. Among these, the influential book Design with Nature by Scottish landscape architect Ian McHarg (1969) was the most influential1. On the other hand, since the city is an organic and dynamic entity and may take many different forms and meanings at different time intervals, we are bound to take the “time” factor into account. Sustainability, then, can be regarded as a perspective or paradigm in which we consider the three dimensions of society, economy and environment together, extending the fourth dimension of time”.

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