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Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 1 The future of town and country planning

Binary pairs in town planning

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Instead of the ecotones and easy transitions which characterise the natural environment, we have demarcated strips and parcels of land for Road, River, Housing, Open Space, Industry, Shopping, Recreation, Forestry, Ecological Area [Fig 1.15]. In the following pairs, the first member normally has a privileged position:- Road:Housing River:Housing Housing:Open Space Recreation:Ecological Area Forestry:Recreation Fig 1.15 Singular zoning for housing, river, industry, road and park. Everywhere one looks, there are similar examples. Land uses have been parcelled. Boundaries have become binary divides. Everything must be A or not-A, B or not-B. The fantastic workings of a living organism are severed by the butcher's knife, as in Tunnard's montage [Fig 1.16]. 1.16 The fantastic workings of a living organism ought not to be severed with a butcher's knife (from Christopher Tunnard Gardens in the modern landscape). Smooth transitions are forced into culturally-imposed formal structures. Happy is the river which is not a property line, not a local government boundary, not an engineer's 'watercourse'. The butchery was done by people with an inadequate appreciation of environmental structure. Many of the privileges, concealed in language and custom, date from early times and have no relevance to the conditions of modern life. In the following examples an advantage can be gained by reversing the hierarchy, but the reversal should not be institutionalised: Roads : Planning. When planning a ring road, give land use decisions precedence over highway decisions. Planning : Architecture. Let the design of an important building change the town plan. Landscape : Architecture. Let the planning of the outdoor landscape take precedence over the building design. River Engineering : Nature Conservation. When designing flood control works, let the interests of the river's fauna, and of recreational users, be the prime considerations. Forestry: Recreation. When designing a forest, let timber production be regarded as a useful byproduct, not the main objective. Medium landscape planning image033 original Medium landscape planning image034 original