Contrast, Contact, Contract; Pathways to Pacify Urbanization and Natural Processes

  • Dirk Sijmons
Part of the Contemporary Urban Design Thinking book series (CUDT)


This chapter develops design speculations how to mitigate the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. Some pathways are explored.

First, we show that nature can not be switched on and off at will and there is always a natural expression in – and of – our urban landscapes. Looking at urbanization at a global scale the world acknowledges biodiversity hotspots to coincide with the expected fastest growing cities of the Earth. The best proven way in these situations might still be to traditionally plan for strict nature reserves.

Infrastructures of different kinds in the urban landscape are the main agents in fragmenting habitats, hence remediation strategies such as ecological infrastructure and ecological connecting are briefly explored as the second pathway. This green infrastructure can act as an additional strategy for the conservation pathway and as an auxiliary for all other situations.

The third pathway is the landscape architecture’ best bet: making parks. Next to being favourite public spaces and the lungs of a city, parks can act as stepping stones in the green infrastructure.

The fourth pathway, and the core of this chapter, aims to (re)shape the configuration of our urban landscapes. Here we muse the thought that the classic urban utopian models, the garden city, the lobe city and broad-acre city, all three stand for a specific way of interaction between urbanization and landscape. Making contrast, seeking contact and entering into a new contract between city and nature, we will interrogate the significance for the present day situation in helping to reweave the urban landscapes into a more nature inclusive way. International examples are touched upon, while three metropolitan Amsterdam cases show that the strong points of all three models can be brought into action in a single urban landscape, thus making a vital contribution to nature-driven urbanism.


Biodiversity hotspots Landscape architecture Urban nature Urban density Occupation strategy Rewilding Configuration of Urban Landscapes Amsterdam metropolitan area Paris Mumbai Houston 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Sijmons
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.TU-DelftDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.H+N+S Landscape ArchitectsAmersfoortThe Netherlands

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