Landscape as Infrastructure: Towards Biophilic Design

Professor Nina Marie Lister, Ecologist and Founding Principal of Plandform (Canada)

Cities are built on infrastructure: human-designed networks of roads, rails, bridges, pipelines and sewers. These hard-surface "grey" infrastructures, traditionally designed by civil-engineers and planners have become synonymous with The City. Yet today, for the first time in human history, more than half the world's population now lives in cities. Increasingly, in the Age of the Anthropocene, the urban (and urbanising) landscape is the *only* landscape our children will ever know. But, as is becoming increasingly apparent, it is the ecological function as much as the form of landscape that ultimately sustains us. For this reason, this talk argues, it is time to re-evaluate, re-define, and re-affirm that landscape itself IS infrastructure. Landscape is the essential vital, green and blue infrastructure that affords the necessary resilience that will support sustainable human settlement under the complex and uncertain conditions of climate change that define the Age of the Anthropocene. But beyond the essential ecosystem services provided by living landscapes, the anthropocene city also needs the vital benefits of biophilia - the "nature fix" - that is increasingly understood to be critical to human physical, mental, social and cultural wellness. The repositioning of landscape as infrastructure offers new agency for a resilient future through biophilic design.

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