Biomorphic Urbanism: A Guide for Sustainable Cities

Why ecology should be the foundation of urban development.

SOM
SOM
Apr 18, 2019 · 8 min read
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Located along a formerly industrialized stretch of the Chicago River, the Wild Mile is a proposed 17-acre, floating eco-park that will create new opportunities for habitat restoration, education, and recreation. Image © SOM

Our patterns of urbanization must strengthen and restore natural systems, rather than diminish them.

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SOM’s design for India Basin in San Francisco aims to transform one of the city’s former industrial areas into an active waterfront. Image © SOM | Steelblue
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This rendering of the Seagull Island Master Plan, located in China’s Pearl River Delta, shows restored hydrological zones (darker green and blue areas) alongside agricultural and development sites. Image © SOM
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An aerial view of SOM’s master plan for Jigna Eco-community outside of Abuja, Nigeria. The urban design preserves ecosystems within and surrounding the development. Image © SOM | PixelFlakes
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Diagrams highlighting ecological and cultural assets in the Parkmerced Vision Plan, a neighborhood revitalization project in San Francisco. Image © SOM

From theory to practice

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Left: Preliminary sketch of river systems in the downtown core of Guiyang, China. SOM recommended restoring 28 kilometers of riverfront to create a green framework for the city. Right: Rendering of the Guiyang Nanming Riverfront Culture CBD Master Plan. Images © SOM
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Rendering of SOM’s proposal for a redesigned India Basin on the San Francisco Bay. Image © SOM

Good for people, good for the planet

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The Kallang River channel running through Singapore’s Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park has been transformed in recent years from a concrete drainage canal into a restored river ecosystem. Led by Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, this effort has allowed for the reintroduction of numerous native species, and has recast the park as a beloved public space. Photo by Wirbel1980, CC-BY-SA 3.0