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A critical approach to ecological urbanism in Hong Kong


Lorrimar-Shanks, J and Owen, C, A critical approach to ecological urbanism in Hong Kong, International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, 8, (2) pp. 110-125. ISSN 1756-5723 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/19463138.2015.1083436


This paper uses a process of ecological reasoning to challenge normative concepts of sustainable urbanism. Ecological metaphor is often applied in a normative manner, with the assumption that ecologically derived design concepts are wholly positive and ‘sustainable’; however, this is not necessarily the case. Through a detailed case study of Hong Kong, we reveal that the interpretive nature of ecological urbanism can produce a variety of outcomes to either contribute to, by explicating and imagining, or undermine sustainability endeavours, by misleading or obscuring. Employing a situated narrative technique we challenge established ecological design concepts, such as ‘self-sufficiency’ and ‘eco-efficiency’, with their cultural residuals of individualistic, mechanistic values. In their place, the notion of autopoiesis is proposed, reconceptualising Hong Kong as an interactive network of agents working to regain sovereignty over production, distribution and consumption patterns. The implications of this research demonstrate the importance of criticality, reflexivity and situated engagement in conceiving, communicating and transforming sustainability concepts. We argue that it is this process, rather than the concepts themselves, that underpins the vitality of ecological urbanism.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecological urbanism, metaphor, self-sufficiency, eco-efficiency, autopoiesis, Hong Kong, narrative inquiry
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Urban and regional planning
Research Field:Urban analysis and development
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental education and awareness
UTAS Author:Owen, C (Associate Professor Ceridwen Owen)
ID Code:103655
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2015-10-21
Last Modified:2017-10-24
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