• Nordic Nature Project

Anthropocene Housing Development

It seems to me that most of today's housing development is done with a deep disregard for the natural world.

Quarry construction underway

Developers are in most cases not thinking about planning and constructing housing estates in a way that gives the least possible impact on the natural surroundings, but rather they seek to maintain a practice of demolishing what is there so that construction can commence without any natural obstacles in the way. In turn, the construction sites look like quarries. Gray, desolated wounds in the landscape designed solely with economic efficiency in mind. The objective is to cram the most amounts of plots possible into the designated areas, leaving little or no room for trees, creeks and other annoying features that might stand in the way of the machinery. Once the roads are in place and the homes erected the landscape has been transformed beyond recognition and the only green that is allowed to grow are "putting green" lawns and hedges comprised of non-indigenous species. Sometimes the houses are so close together that neighbors literally can reach out their windows and touch each other.

By pointing this out I'm not proposing that we should return to living in caves, but there has got to be some way to implement policies that require our homes to be constructed in a manner that is more in harmony with nature.

The way we are constructing our houses and cities speaks to something deeper. It's a symptom of the arrogance of man. Nature stands in our way and we need to get rid of it so that we can prosper and grow. That sentiment seems to permeate almost everything we do as a species.

Are we not deeply misguided? Where does it say that we can't at least try to build our homes in accordance with the nature that is already there?

Like many other things, it is mostly a question of economics. We need to blow up the bedrock, level the ground and remove the trees so that the building materials can be delivered on-site with the least amount of effort and time spent. I.e the cheapest way possible.

Understandably, it is hard to break from such a pattern in a system that is predicated on growth and profit, but is not about time to reevaluate how things are done in housing development, given the environmental challenges that face us?

When planning a new residential area wouldn't it be a good idea to include the overall impact on the ecosystem as part of the equation? This way we can try to reduce the destruction of the soil, the plants, the animals and ultimately the humans when homes are being built. Maybe the well-being of the ecosystem as a whole is a more important metric in the long run than profit for the developers. I sincerely doubt the cost of building homes without first demolishing the surroundings will be much higher anyway, it may be quite the contrary.

Either way, the cost doesn't always have to be placed on the consumer. Maybe the developers must accept slightly lower profit margins in order to maintain a more healthy environment in the places where they build. Or could subsidies for environmentally friendly practices be the way to go? There are many solutions to be envisioned, but they all require another kind of focus from people on both sides of the supply and demand chain.

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