What will the world look like in 2050? Among many unknowns, one fact is certain: the future will be increasingly urban. According to a United Nations study, 70 percent of the world’s growing population, projected to reach 9.8 billion people by the middle of this century, will be living in urban areas. Accommodating this growth would require constructing the equivalent of nine cities the size of New York every year for the next 30 years — a staggering amount of buildings and infrastructure, built at a staggering pace. Architects and urban designers urgently need a framework to accommodate this growth, while protecting the ecological systems that sustain us. In light of these pressing challenges, designers must seize this moment to redefine the form of the 21st-century city.
Our patterns of urbanization must strengthen and restore natural systems, rather than diminish them.
Biomorphic urbanism offers a theoretical foundation for how we can design and build cities to meet these challenges, while also enhancing the human experience of cities. Our patterns of urbanization must strengthen and restore natural systems, rather than diminish them. If cities and regions can adopt this approach, then we could accommodate a growing global population, while protecting local ecosystems and building strong, supportive communities.
What exactly do we mean when we say “biomorphic urbanism”? Derived from the root words bio, meaning life, and morph, meaning form, biomorphic urbanism can be defined as cities formed by life. It is closely related to the concept of biophilia, introduced in the late 20th century by psychologist Erich Fromm and later developed by biologist E.O. Wilson. This theory posits that humans have an inherent attraction to nature, based on a deep biological need for a physical connection to the natural world.