• Cultivating an Urban Aesthetic

    Arnold Berleant (see profile)
    Urban ecology (Sociology), Aesthetics, City planning
    Item Type:
    perceptual awareness, urban city, human environment, urban experience, Urban ecology, Urban planning
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    The agricultural metaphor of my title is deliberate. It suggests the need for cultivating the urban environment, including the aesthetic dimension that is part of every place, so that it offers the conditions under which people will develop and flourish. Humane environments require time to grow and should emerge out of local needs, conditions, and traditions. What was once spontaneous urban growth of a proportion and scale to match the human body and activities that completed it must now be deliberately chosen and quickly accomplished. But the same organic principles apply. Planning under these conditions demands a gardener who is talented and sensitive, one who understands that the balance of differences among the components of an environment must be nurtured by being responsive to the distinctive qualities of each, to the interrelations among them, and to the unpredictabilities inherent in a complex and temporal process. This is the essential reciprocity of people and place, and the aesthetics of environment rests on a perceptual engagement between them. The capacity to cultivate the functional and the aesthetic as inseparable aspects of the same urban growth is what makes planning an art and the planner an artist. Can there be any act more profound or scope more significant? It must now be deliberately chosen and quickly addressed.
    Ch. 6 in Arnold Berleant, The Aesthetics of Environment (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), pp. 82-98. ISBN 978-1566393348. Reprinted as Ch. 3 in The Aesthetics of Human Environments, edited by Arnold Berleant and Allen Carlson (Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 2007), pp. 79-91. ISBN 978-1551116853.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago


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