It is exciting to read “Blue Skies”, the new novel by T.C.Boyle, and at the same time to dedicate oneself to the opulent work of Adrian McGregor. While Boyle’s protagonists in Florida and California are at the mercy of the manifold violent effects of climate change and the reader abandons all hope after reading, the Australian landscape architect develops concepts for saving the planet, starting from the cities in which a large part of the world’s population lives. “It is time to reinvent cities as the solution to the climate emergency. If we can rapidly decarbonize the world’s 10,000 cities, we can successfully slow global warming.”
McGregor calls the concept “biourbanism”, and the book is the result of many years of work on the subject. McGregor has not made it easy for himself with the content of the 400 pages, which are filled with statistics, graphs, maps, diagrams and expressive photos, as well as, of course, concise texts. And he goes a long way.
Chapter 1, “Rise And Fall Of Cities,” is dedicated to the history of the city from the Stone Age to today’s megacities, always keeping in mind the reasons for the decline of cities and their societies.
In chapter 2, “Converging Emergencies”, he describes the main problem areas of cities today, from ecological footprint overshoot to traffic collapse. Here, the author assesses the environmental crisis as a design crisis: “If cities are to survive these threats, they need better design to enable the building-in of resilience.”
Chapter 3 is dedicated to the Biourbanism Model based on 10 Biourbanism Systems, from Citizens to Water, Energy to Technology. McGregor defines the model as follows: “Founded on landscape architecture and ecological science, I have conceived Biourbanism to be an urban planning and design model informed by data which acknowledges that cities function as complex ecological suprasystems or anthromes”.
Finally, the fourth chapter is the “Resilience Action Plan”, because implementing findings is the most urgent and difficult thing. Biourbanism Resilience Indicators” for the systems identified in the previous chapter are to help as a kind of open-source resource that dresses on a rank of existing international indices for city performance.
McGregor proves that all this can work with the help of case studies in which McGregor Coxall played a key role, such as Bristol’s Climate Resilience Strategy, Shenshan Biocity or Tianjin’s Bird Airport.
It is time to radically rethink and reinvent our cities. Therein lies the key to climate emergency – is the appeal at the end of this weighty work. It is certainly not a manual for saving the world, but it contains a wealth of important data, information and suggestions that are worth taking seriously and incorporating into the fight for resilience. I would like to recommend the book also because I appreciate the author’s verve and confidence.
written by Robert Schäfer
Published on September 6, 2023