COA Research Forum: Dr. Perry Yang, " Ecological Urbanism: Scale, Flow and Design Advocates Ecological Systems Design as Path to Sustainable Cities"

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Georgia Tech architecture and planning professor Perry Yang says environmental science is essential to sustainable urban design in his new book Ecological Urbanism: Scale, Flow and Design (China Architecture and Building Press). The book points to the overuse of the term “sustainability,” and suggests a renewed approach in which ecology can regenerate urban environments.

“Traditional urban design treats ecology in cities as ways of preserving or adding ecological elements such as green spaces to urban environment,” said Yang. “Ecological systems design advocates ecology by design, an inherently ecology-structured urban system.”

Yang presents three approaches to putting this into practice:

  1. Scale: to study the interrelated scales and contexts of cities and regions; urban structures; landscape units; and architectural spaces.
  2. Flow: to analyze ecological flows (energy, material, water, pedestrian and informational flows) to better predict environmental consequences of planning and design decisions, and to argue for flows to generate form instead of form following function.
  3. Design: to embrace nature in urban environments by manipulating urban spatial configuration and managing modes of ecological flows. In other words, using urban design as an ecological intervention.

See Yang discuss the book in the College of Architecture Research Forum. The book is written in both Chinese and English and available for purchase at

Yang is an associate professor appointed jointly to the Schools of Architecture and City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech. A practicing designer, he has received numerous awards in international competitions, including first prizes in the 2009 World Games Park at Kaohsiung City of Taiwan (2005); the Eco-city design at Maluan Bay at Xiamen of China (2007); and the Green Heart design at Shunde, Guangdong, the Pearl River Delta Region of China (2010). He serves on the board of the International Urban Planning and Environment Association (UPE), and recently co-organized UPE’s international symposium in Guangzhou, China.

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  • Ecological Urbanism: Scale, Flow and Design

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