A friend wrote recently saying she wasn’t aware of “ecovillages” that had a strong edge between higher density full community and immediately adjacent open space. Since I think the visual image of such an arrangement is so interesting and important, I’ll just record my response here.
Thanks for your note and observation. I have seen some regular villages, not self-consciously ecovillages, that are extremely compact, in China in the 3 story range, in Turkey and Nepal in the six story range, with natural, grazing and/or agricultural land or waters immediately next door. City walls up against open space. There is Tori Superiori in Italy where a group of people hoping to create a self-conscious ecovillage purchased this almost single structure hyper compact small medieval village. Looks fascinating. I’d love to visit.
I keep looking for cities that might break up into larger eco-type city centers, mid sized district centers and with neighborhood centers turning into ecovillages. I’m going to Detroit in a week where large areas – thousands of acres of former thinly scattered development is turning into open space, some of it new farming.
The whole galaxy of these new ecology-informed habitations – city centers become ecocities, district centers becoming ecotowns and neighborhood centers becoming ecovillages – would be a new and really exciting way to live with probably one tenth the energy and one fifth the land demands of the present average city with cars for most of its inhabitants.
I look at cities like Venice, Italy, Zermatt, Switzerland and Avalon on the Island of Catalina in California which are zero car cities and very successful. I’d imagine adding some solar energy retrofitting and more biodiversity in or adjacent and they would then be very close to ecological cities and villages.
People have been using artificial fill since the first cities in the Mesopotamian valley 4,500 years ago, the cities of the Sumerian Civilization being built on mounds to rise above the floods. That would work for New Orleans and dozens of other coastal cities on nearly flat land or below sea level. You could even have new agricultural islands very close or as a skirt to such cities for intensive food production, biodynamic or permaculture style, with some in solar greenhouses, some on rooftops. Very rich possibilities.