Passive Housing and Sustainable Urbanism seemed to be the hype at this years EcoBuild.
The Landscape Institute sponsored a program of seminars focused on 'Sustainability and The City'. With only two hours to spare before dashing back to the other side of London, I stayed to watch a discussion by Wulf Daseking, Head of Planning in The city of Freiburg, Germany. Having written The Freiburg Charter For Sustainable Urbanism in 2010, Wulf had some educated thoughts on urban planning, with a particular focus on infrastructure and development of the suburbs.
The City of Freiburg (European City of the Year 2010) has been an inspiration to urban planners across Europe for the past decade, as a successful working model of what strategic, people centred planning can deliver. The Charter published last year outlines 12 basic paths towards sustainable urban planning. A major consideration the charter flags up is, building around public transport links to create thriving suburban districts and reduce traffic passing through cities. Wulf emphasised the need for 'short distance' development where residents can walk or travel quickly by public transport to the city centre. This enables consumers to shop locally, therefore retaining wealth in the district; rather than losing trade to large out-of-town supermarkets. Have a read through the charter for more information on, mixed wealth neighbourhoods and land purchase for living rather than development.
A point that stayed with me and that is applicable to most challenges in politics and design, is the idea of " orientation towards long term objectives". In essence, solutions can be found and maintained by looking at the bigger picture. By anticipating change and growth planners can optimise their resources and create a long term strategys that can be sustained over time.
View from the impressive Excel conference centre in East London's docklands.