According to the architect and researcher Patrícia Akinaga, green urban planning arose at the end of the 20th century as a strategy to create a paradigm shift regarding the design of cities. With this, urban projects must be designed based on the potentialities and limitations of existing natural resources. Unlike other previous movements, in green urban planning, architecture is not the structuring element of the city, but rather the landscape itself. In other words, green areas should not only exist to beautify spaces, but to be true engineering artifacts with the potential to moisten, retain, and treat rainwater, for example. With green urban planning, urban design is defined by the natural elements intrinsic to its surroundings.
In the same text, Akinaga quotes the architect and landscape researcher Douglas Farr when he says that green urban planning sets the stage for a new lifestyle that is more balanced, with a higher quality of life and that meets everyday needs. To achieve an ideal of green urban planning, Farr outlines five basic guidelines:
● Densification: liberation of the soil and reduction of displacements.
● Sustainable corridors: sustainable travel through a public transport network and intermodal ecological corridors.
● Ecological neighborhoods: neighborhood units with diversified commerce, civic areas, and public spaces connected by a road system, which allows access to basic needs through short walks.
● Access to nature: creation of qualified green spaces such as sports fields, squares, parks and community gardens.
● High-performance buildings and green infrastructure: infrastructures that have low energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, either through technology, or through specific strategies such as rain gardens, biovaletas, intense forestation, among others.
In academic terms, the Green Urbanism Symposium, from the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, in 2009 can be considered a major milestone in green urban planning research, organized by Mohsen Mostafavi and Gareth Doherty, who brought together several contributions to a book of the same name.
Despite the well-established theory, in practice green urban planning has been criticized for often configuring a vaguely defined idea that materializes into a set of flashy projects. Caro operates for commercial rather than environmental purposes, fulfilling a unique ambition to invest in technology and sustainability without representing a globally applicable approach. All the criticisms are valid in order to not be seduced by the idea of sustainability, however, far from being generalized, there are very interesting projects that address green ecological urban planning as a reconciliation of the city and its environment. Take a look at some examples below: