Towards new Recipes for Urban Ecosystems
Cities can be regarded as a man made urban ecosystem. Cities are the outcome of a complex process of interaction between it’s cultural, social, economical, ecological, technological and political/institutional capabilities. All cities have a unique set of capabilities and interactions between them (chemistry if you will).
Cities in crisis are the result of a loss of diversity. The urban ecosystem has become too dependent on a limited set of capabilities and interactions. Changes within these will result in the urban ecosystem to drift towards a new equilibrium or ‘modus operandi’.
When reviving a city the focus needs to be on understanding the capabilities and interactions in order to find a new recipe for a viable urban ecosystem. Viability and resilience of the urban ecosystem depends on the diversity of the capabilities the interactions between them.
The key in reviving is awareness and action with the stakeholders of the city. Reviving an urban ecosystem is about understanding the city at different scale levels, identifying capabilities and nurturing new interaction at every city level. This can be at street-, neighborhood-, municipal-, regional- and even bigger levels.
The introduction of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, as a big gesture to combine cultural, economical and institutional capabilities can be regarded as a successful attempt to revive the city. Question here is what will happen if the Guggenheim leaves Bilbao, as the automobile industry left Detroit.
On a smaller scale the ‘noppes’ system is a Dutch example of a LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) with the aim of achieving societal goals and local prosperity (‘noppes’ meaning ‘nothing’). This complementary money system forges local social networks where people perform work/services for other people in their community and are paid a certain number of ‘noppes’. These can in turn be used to ‘purchase’ other products or services, thereby benefiting local economies and urban ecosystems.