UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Intrusion of buildings in natural environments : identifying the new environmental change regime Undurraga, Jaime Esteban


This thesis examines the degenerative processes of planning procedures and buildings intruding in natural environments as the result of a dysfunctional social value of nature. Such intrusions are assumed to embody a notion of detachment of artificial processes from those of nature, leading to unexpected changes in the natural environment. Unlike urban environments, previously undeveloped locations present no artificial thresholds in the ecological relationship between buildings and nature. The likely isolation of these "social" artefacts intervening in previously undeveloped natural environments is examined in order to stress the functional interaction between natural and artificially contrasting systems as developing a new environmental change regime. Such direct connections highlight the need for accurate design considerations regarding the local conditions of ecological functioning, especially if such conditions are to be maintained. Therefore, a central question of this thesis is not whether buildings should or should not be placed in non-urban locations, but how. Revisiting core concepts from scientific fields, and especially, understanding how theories about the natural environment are constructed comprise a driving strategy in specifying the potential role of planning and design within these processes of land modification. A common ground of analysis and understanding for both scientific disciplines and design processes not (traditionally) involved in environmental evaluations is thus encouraged. The core intent of this thesis is to offer an integrated vision of an ongoing and yet dysfunctional relationship between buildings and natural environments. If the final artificial intervention's layout and its consequent environmental performance considers the landscape structure and functioning as an integral part of the building system, then the building becomes unique to that particular place. By embracing a profound understanding of this functional dependency on the larger natural system, a "sustainable synthesis of nature and culture" (Forman 2001) may hopefully be accomplished.

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