An urban suitability selection process
Schernig, Robert Paul
Master of Architecture
The environmental problems of our urban settlements, and the resultant ecological crisis, gives rise to the need for an Urban Suitability Selection Process based on the ecological approach. In order to understand how we generated our present problems, an historical survey is used to document man's changing attitudes towards his environment, and to indicate the importance of natural systems. It is proposed that the ecological input is the primary factor in environmental quality and that the human, natural, and economic costs of urbanization can be reduced when viewed as a holistic process, based on ecology. The basic principles of the ecological approach are defined and related to their input on urban form. A dual system of man and nature is proposed as the essence of urban suitability, and the use of this concept is documented by a study of three practitioners in the field of environmental planning, Phillip H. Lewis, Ian L. McHarg, and Donald L. Williams. Their processes are summarized for the most relevant indicators of urban suitability, and condensed into an Urban Suitability Selection Process. The final section applies the basic elements of the process to the Houston urban area. The use and limitations of the environmental inventory is discussed with respect to the availability of data and its use in understanding natural patterns. Finally, performance requirements for urban suitability are recommended with a discussion of their effect on the man/environment relationship.