November 20, 2012
Lauren - Urban Green Space Within the Cityscape
- Green space = trees, mountain, blue sky, ocean, etc.
At the beginning of her presentation, Sutherland asked the class to close their eyes and picture
what was, to each of us, "green space." What I found interesting about this exercise was the way
that our ideas of green space differed depending on where we were from: urbanites generally saw
green space as parks in the city, while students who aren't from cities saw green space as trees,
mountains, oceans, or blue skies. The truth of the matter is that green space is both of these, and
more: it is a concept that is constantly, in the words of Derrida, sous-erature, in that the more we
change the world around us the more we have to update our deﬁnition of what green space is.
Urban space, on the other hand, is perhaps a little easier to understand. This refers to cities:
buildings, roads, cars, and the like. This is the space that urbanites inhabit. This is Toronto.
The problem that arises from trying to deﬁne spaces like "urban spaces" and "green spaces" is
that in doing so, we create a set of binary opposites that we categorize, in our minds, as two
separate, unconnected entities. This is turn leads to what Derrida, in his work "Differance,"
refers to as a "violent hierarchy": one space is inevitably placed over the other in our minds. The
problem here, of course, is that the signiﬁers of "urban space" and "green space" often blend into
Allow me to explain using an example with which I am very familiar: Toronto. Earlier I gave
Toronto as an example of an urban space, and at a ﬁrst glance, it is: it is a city. The question,
then, is what we call places like this:
The ﬁgure above shows High Park: a space that is decidedly green. The problem with labeling
High Park a "green space," however, is the fact that it is in the middle of a wholeheartedly urban
space: the city. In my opinion this is a perfect example of Derrida's concept of "glissement," in
that the meanings of the two are not concrete but rather slip beneath one another and blend in
more ways than we can imagine. The question then, perhaps, shouldn't be one of deﬁning
"green" and "urban" spaces, but rather one of deconstructing our preconceived notions of these
spaces and instead focus on the fusion of these signiﬁers into one common space.
- Green space is also parks
- Cities = buildings, roads, cars, etc.
- Nature and city are often two separate, unconnected entities --> this can create a
"violent hierarchy," often placing the city over the green space
- environment altruism: a negative relationship between the value of self-enhancement
and pro-environmental behavior
- We need to deconstruct traditional urbanism and fuse the signiﬁers as city and green
space - glissement --> the ﬂuidity of meaning and representation
- we can agree on what green spaces are because of the feeling we get when going to a
- biophilia: the idea that humans have a fundamental connection with nature and have
an innate need to be exposed to its complexity in form and function (Fuller and Irvine)
- childhood experiences with nature contribute to our individual deﬁnitions of "green
space" and contribute to the "free play" of how we deﬁne nature and how it plays into
the city space
- Partial Reality Park --> e.g. Queen's Park --> it's kind of imposed upon the city space,
there are cars going around the whole time, you can feel the subway underneath -->
reminds us that the city takes precedence over natural space
- Hyper-reality green space --> astro-turf lawns
- simulacrum park --> the rock in Yorkville --> more evocative of the concrete jungle
than the Canadian shield
- how can we broaden our deﬁnitions of nature and city?
- fusing signiﬁers:
▯ - for environmental architecture, we must fuse the signiﬁers of "building" and
"nature", thus expanding the possibilities of both --> "free play"
▯ - Jane Jacobs, environmental activist, says infrastructure in itself isn't proof of
development but how you build on the past to prepare for the future
▯ - "it is better to think of the open spaces of a city as a multi-faceted matrix...."
- The Dragonﬂy Project: mixed use building with enviro engineering and vertical farm
plots - also has green walls, rooftop gardens, community gardens, balcony greenhouses,
urban compost, not to mention sustainable energy use
- Guerrilla gardening --> gardening on land that is unused/uncared for without
permission --> tactic
- turns tactic into strategy to sell expensive clothes
- corporations turning nature into a commodity
- many cities using the idea of guerrilla gardening in boxes and plots in the citi
- Why is green space important?
- aside from food production, it provides employment, food security, income, recreation,
motivation for sustainability, physical and mental wellbeing
- opening conte