Health, Ecology and Civic Life in Rainforest City

The space of the city can be said to be defined by our relationship to our bodies and a model of health. This applies equally to the first cities of Antiquity, codified by Vitruvius, as well as the hygienic and technological megalopolis of Corbusier. Since the Enlightenment and the birth of the mechanistic perception of nature, the space of the city has become determined by a biopolitical and mechanistic perception of the body. And while the body is perceived as a machine, the city is its mechanistic extension, operating in strictly rational, preconfigured and effective modalities.

In biopolitical terms, the modern city is the space of the control, configuration, administration and institutionalization of life, including care of human health, maintenance, education and surveillance. In socio-economic terms, the city is the manifestation of the hedonistic desire for permanent economic growth, concentration of power, technological development and unquenchable consumption.The city, and the basis of urbanism, is the total realization of human desire. An altered anthropocentric universe. A virtual reality.

Within the definition of the biopolitical and technological spatiality of the city, the realm of nature has been lost. Not in its controlled, altered and peripheral sense, such as the pretty parks, dirty rivers and abandoned post-industrial wastelands that are ubiquitous in the urban realms of today. Real wilderness has been lost. Allocated space for nature to just be. Not only isolated pockets, but continuous strands. Real ecosystems. Protected nature not only at the edge but within the space commanded by urbanism. Depoliticized space where nature can automatically flourish. A space for nature where we can learn how symbiotic our relationship with our environment really is.

Thus an ecological spatiality of the city emerges, one in which the effects of the environment on our health are fully perceived. Beyond the duality of mind and body/environment, health can then be understood as something which is intrinsically tied to the health of the environment.

The cultural and civic building which I’m proposing on the High street of Glasgow right next to the old demolished Old College once stood, acts as a gateway a bridge between the humanistic and civic foundation of cities and a new depoliticized spatiality in the city. The space for nature to just be. A space of human and environmental healing. The building can act as a facility to further investigate the impact of nature on the human psyche and health and a place to cultivate and develop a cultural awareness of the inherently symbiotic relationship we have with nature.