Book Review: City Form and Natural Process

City Form and Natural Process: Towards a New Urban Vernacular by Michael Hough

Michael Hough aims to change not only the physical character of the city but, more importantly, the aesthetic and cultural attitudes that shape it in the first place. These values respectively create an abundance of high maintenance lawns and formal landscaping and treat open spaces in terms of civic and recreational uses first and foremost over educational and ecological ones. Basically, Hough argues, by denying their greater role in the natural world, cities are unsustainable and require an alternative approach for open space, landscape and urban design.

After explaining the basis for ecological design in the first chapter, Hough spends one chapter on specific elements that the city denies: climate, water, plants, wildlife, and farming. In the last chapter, he draws the connections between these various elements, as their existence and treatment is never singular. Throughout various tables, graphs, drawings, illustrations, and photographs help convey the necessity for a change in thinking towards our environment and the values we ascribe to our surroundings.