URBAN ENVIRONMENTS AND THEIR ABILITY TO SUPPORT HUMAN/NATURE RELATIONSHIPS

Open Access
Author:
Baran, Nicholas Sean
Area of Honors:
Landscape Architecture
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Barry Kew, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stuart Patton Echols, Honors Advisor
  • Kelleann Foster, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • urban
  • nature
  • landscape architecture
  • brilliant
  • insightful
Abstract:
The majority of the human race, for the first time in its history, can be found living in urban environments. This thesis argues that this recent trend means the waning of humanity’s interaction with the natural world which, in turn, jeopardizes the human ability to live. However, urban environments do not have to increase the rift between humanity and nature. This thesis proves that essential elements of nature can exist within urban environments through specific design gestures. This thesis begins by examining the relationship between humanity and its environment of old, the natural world. This relationship is then followed through the evolution of humanity. Key moments that shift the composition of this relationship are defined. These moments include subsistence farming, the Industrial Revolution, and urban migration. It is argued that each shift brings with it a new frontier, furthering the rift between humanity and nature. The section concludes by examining humanity’s most contemporary environment, and the one that is seemingly the most removed from nature: the urban environment. A case is then made for the importance of a positive and healthy relationship between humanity and nature being incorporated into urban environments. Humanity’s ability to live in these environments, going beyond sustaining life, is questioned. Research conducted through the study of Environmental Psychology is used to prove that humans need contact with nature, supporting E. O. Wilson’s Biophilia hypothesis. Once established, what comprises both “nature” and “urban” is analyzed. “Nature” is examined within a contemporary context, moving beyond the pristine and the untouched, while “urban” is defined by two of its constructive properties, volume and form. Both “nature” and “urban” are deconstructed so that the elements of each can be intertwined, proving that nature can exist in urban environments.