Naturalization of Polycentric Cities

Luke Leung
Director
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Chicago

Naturalization of Polycentric Cities is a key for our healthy future. Much of the research today is pointing to the disruption of the human and nature relationship and how that can lead to chronic diseases. Naturalization of Polycentric Cities can involve understanding of the urban microenvironment, restoring nature, and healing our land beyond cities.

Understanding of the microenvironment is fundamental to naturalization. The design professionals, especially in the vertical dimension, have little to no real measured urban environmental data. CTBUH 2016 International Research Seed Funding addressed this need by awarding research on the vertical atmospheric environment of a 300 M tall tower in Chicago. Initial findings will be reported in this presentation including the decrease in contaminants e.g. PM 2.5, with elevations, and the formation of a “Street Bubble” through anthropogenic activities at the ground level.

Restoring nature is of utmost important in Polycentric Cities. Bringing back the circadian rhythm of humans to accommodate deep rest and high productivities. Seeing nature, both plants and animals, as a soft fascination to improve cognitive abilities. Hearing of water and bird songs rather than hectic honking of impatient drivers. Probiotic living and touching healthy microbial rather than bacteria solely from humans. In Japan, selected apartments are now constructed by “organic” material only with no human additives.

Healing our land needs to go beyond cities. Topsoil erosion is one of the most serious issues of our time. Some suggested there is only about 60 years of productive farming left. Polycentric Cities planning must encompass a systematic solution to minimize anthropogenic impact both inside and outside city boundaries.