Urban Correlator: Strategies for an ecologically adaptable urban and architectural development

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40 years after “The limits to growth” the post oil boom economy affects countries in resource scarce environments like the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East with expanding urbanization.
Those cities and architectures are based on fossil fuel driven technologies to control the surrounding arid hot climate for the benefits of human comfort. As a result skyscrapers are flourishing out of desert sands. Their ecological footprint in terms of resource consumption and the resulting emissions
is nearly six planet earths, but celebrated by imported quantitative evaluation methods from
North America or Europe with platinum medals for sustainable building practices. This dichotomy displays the global quest for ‘sustainable’ development on the one hand side and the lack of integrating
the inherent bio-climatic, socio-cultural and political-economical prerequisites of those newly developing countries on the other. Whereas traditional desert oases settlements have been as self-sufficient and self-organising systems perfectly interconnected with all prevalent natural resources and cultural conditions inherent to the region. Such integral understanding draws on the logic of the immanent relations of the natural, human and built environment or in other words on ecology.
An ecological understanding is used in this work to determine the qualitative relationships of urban and architectural (built) environments in conjunction to prevalent natural (ecosphere) and human (anthroposhere) conditions. On the assumption that the built environment acts as levelling layer
between the human and the natural environment in order to compensate bio-climate conditions for the comfort of social-cultural context desires, the main research question raises as such: How can cities and architectures become support systems (rather than energy and resource consumers)
that have the properties to co-evolve as cooperative sub-systems with the surrounding natural and human preconditions under the rules of ecology in general? And in particular: How can the concept
of a traditional self-sustaining desert oasis provide future strategies for sustainable development of cities and architecture?
Rules of ecological systems are understood here as instruments to an appropriate urban planning that follows the principles of higher adaptability and self-organization patterns to generate conditions.
System theories are consulted to determine principles and strategies of complex viable systems of nature. These then form the matrix for analysis of case studies on urbanization patterns of
pre-and post-oil era in the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula and are used to extrapolate potentials and missing links within urban systems through support strategies. Those results are further transferred into a general model of interconnections (Correlator) of components of urbanism,
architecture and technologies in conjunction to the natural and human environment. The resulting model provides a correlation matrix that orders elements and flows from the natural to the built environment via considering principles of human systems and strategies of ecological
systems. It proposes a template of possible elements and strategies for interconnection, which determine the quality of adaptable, viable and thus ‘sustainable’ urban environments. The Correlator shows possibilities and fields of action for the holistic thinking of architecture and urbanism as
support system and thus for the decision-making processes in planning, policy, and the design of the built environment.
Finally this work demonstrates strategies for ‘sustainable development’ where the correlation matrix and the knowledge of the quality of ecological network connections proposes an aide-memoir to de-specify the tunnel-visioned expertise of past innovations and prioritizes ‘Vernetztes Denken’
for newly meaningful concepts for a new planning culture that enable viable urban and architectural development, not only within desert regions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSaarbrücken, Germany
PublisherSudwestdeutscher Verlag fur Hochschulschriften AG
Number of pages247
ISBN (Print)9783838152110
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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