Critical ecourbanism around the world

Organizers: Meg Holden and Charling Li (SFU Urban Studies)


As a set of planning, design, and technological arrangements for living in particular newly-developed neighbourhoods, and as a new ideal for both urbane living and for green and healthy living, ecourban developments are at present demonstrating a rapid growth in popularity. In the current rush to justify and certify new practices in ecourbanism, we are witnessing an expanding array of assessment tools addressing different components and features of new urban neighbourhoods designed to move the city closer to sustainable, ecological, resilient or other new ideals. None of these tools are comprehensive; all overlap and there is no single clear way to choose between them.

As aspirational and world class model sustainable community developments take off now in many countries around the world, it is a useful moment to examine the motivations for pursuing these projects from the array of actors involved; and the trends toward standardization and fragmentation of practices and approaches in planning, design and architecture, and urban development. While governance, policy, design and technological solutions are devised in these urban redevelopment projects, political, ideological and practical challenges are also encountered. Despite our plethora of assessment frameworks, understanding the outcomes of these redevelopment efforts suffers from a lack of a socially-embedded understanding of what constitutes success in sustainable urban neighbourhoods. Beyond this, what does the creation of these new pieces of the city mean for the values living within cities overall, in their existing social, cultural and political landscapes?

Topics for papers or presentations may be conceptual and/or empirical, may relate to urban redevelopment initiatives oriented toward any version of “ecological development” anywhere in the world and may include:

  • “Push” and “pull” factors in redesigning and redeveloping urban neighbourhoods
  • Comparative ecourban frameworks or assessment tools
  • Post-occupancy sustainability indicators or assessment
  • Ecourban development narratives, politics and outcomes
  • Trends in spatial themes, structures or features of ecourban developments
  • Sustainable neighbourhood development norms and values
  • Social, political, institutional or governance frameworks in ecourban projects
  • The public demand for and opposition to ecourbanism and its broader urban impacts
  • To express your interest, please send an abstracts of no more than 200 words to Meg Holden at and Charling Li at by February 15, 2015.