The more I read Massive Change by Bruce Mau, the more I enjoy the ideas he brings to the table. I really like the way that he is trying to integrate ideas in environmental design from around the world into a package that can appeal to everyone. The book does not read like the course materials I have become accustomed to and it is a welcome change.
I was very pleased to come upon the section about dense cities. I have been toying with the idea of high density urban areas as being the most environmentally sound option for a little while now, so it is good to see it in print. Many countries, aside from North America, have been building up their city centers for quite some time so as to preserve more open space around them. This not only is good for the more aesthetic reasons that Mau sites, like keeping the country and opening up more rural space, but also for peace of mind and for the environment and ecosystems in general. Michael McDonough goes a bit more in depth with the kind of interests I have by acknowledging that cities, suburbs, rural areas and so on are not separate pieces to a puzzle. It is impossible to know how valuable they all are with out breaking down each pieces’ “ecosystem” services, what they bring to the table. For example, the city brings housing and jobs and culture, but outputs pollution; while the rural or forested areas do not give humans much as far as shelter and money (ideally, anyway), but they do provide a valuable service as a sink for all of the carbon dioxide and other pollutants that the city centers are pumping into the air. Having one without the other at this stage in human development is not only unsustainable, but also unrealistic.Unfortunately, this idea is a bit unrealistic in itself for the United States at the current time. It will be next to impossible to eliminate suburban sprawl without giving incentive, and even if we could eliminate it, it would take years and years before those suburban areas would return to something resembling their natural state. I do feel like if even one city in the U.S. would try to implement a program to do this; that is all it would take. The United States is often too proud to take its cues from Europe and other countries, but if just one city could get the ball rolling perhaps the others could follow.