30 Jan

With the established state on the climatic field, the Antropocene is a word that has been gaining territory as the evidence becomes stronger on how the acceleration of polluting agents affects the earth.  At the same time, debates arise about whether or not it should come to be considered as a geological era. Other concepts such as Occidentalocene or Capitalocene are coming to the forefront, in the end, all these linguistic efforts try to provide us with the possibility of giving a powerful voice to the current situation. This is not only a problem of an environmental nature but about all the edges that sustainability crosses; the social, the economic, the cultural and even the political. 

One of the great truths of the Anthropocene is that what is happening are not coincidences, they are not ideas of a few and that they are not related effects of the earth cycles as explained and theorized by Milutin Milankovitch. Although the current period belongs to an interglacial period, the climate effects we currently experiencing are related to expressions where anomalies are increasingly more extreme, more variable and mainly these changes manifest themselves quickly. 

It is important then to visualize that climate change is part of what is known as global change, a concept that refers to the set of modifications on a planetary scale. Not only talking about the components that affect the climate, but all the biophysical and biochemical components: Water resources, soil, biodiversity, among others. All these elements that constitute a set of environmental resources that all living beings on the planet have. To visualize this in some way this bag of supplies makes up the natural habitat, from which every living being makes use of it for their survival, and through which it also shapes what we need in order to conform a habitat made to measure. In the case of all living beings except humans, they have built this custom habitat in a way that blurs the line between the natural and the built habitat, since those constructed expressions are subtle, adapted and in any case biodegradable and reintegrable. While, in the case of human society, this built habitat also called artificial does not keep that subtle line of separation, since the transformation of matter thanks to the availability of technology and energy have produced a habitat completely far from the natural habitat. With this premise you can begin to understand the close relationship between the state of the natural habitat, and all territorial resources, with different ways of inhabiting, and therefore, with the expressions of the built habitat.

The exponent use of territorial resources has degraded the environmental status in a direct and quantifiable way, and on the other hand have harmed the landscape resources. That is, not only is the integrity of environmental resources reduced, but the image of the environment deteriorates. The landscape as a set of territorial components is able to easily transmit the environmental state. The colors, shapes and arrangements of the elements become visual indicators about the conditions of the environment. In the current situation, amid the Anthropocene, the landscape expresses a series of effects related to the strong impacts of society and the construction of the built habitat. 

I can only think of the concept of mausoleums of the Anthropocene, to call those expressions that have become invalid before the natural response of the earth. Abandoned whaling stations in Antarctica where the increase in fresh(sweet) water and the decrease in krill forces whales to migrate, unused bridges because rivers have changed their course due to water depletion, or because they have decided to recover those paleo causes stolen by greed. Or even more peculiar cases such as the mouth of the Odaw River in Agbogbloshie which is now nothing more than an electronic waste dump as a result of the economic spheres of power in the world and a fractured global society. An ice-free ski resort in Chacaltaya and some other evidence that; although it is daring to call them temporary, they result from fast and repeatable events such as the debris of Grand Bahama International Airport after Hurricane Dorian or the charred buildings of New South Wales due to combustion events due to heat waves, whose presence persists. These landscapes of the Anthropocene are just some examples that reveal works of engineering and architecture that nature puts as evidence that climate change is as real as it is harsh. 

Therefore, the landscape can be understood as a biomarker of environmental health, and which should be taken as a starting point for the recovery of natural flows and cycles (water, carbon, energy, biota) in cities. Urbanism, beyond engineering, is based on a broad framework where environmental resources are transformed into the territory supplies. The incorporation of the notion of landscape as infrastructure is presented as a strategic alternative for the generation of participation, environmental quality and social inclusion. Through respect for cultural and environmental heritage, distension practices can be generated between the habitat and the artifice. 

That said, environmental and urban health, is the area of knowledge, sheltered within public health, that allows us to rethink the impact on the interventions on the public health sector in cities, including those that do not necessarily originate in the health sector. This link can be reviewed from the history of urbanism and architecture where a series of theories and theorists have passed regarding the healthy cities, from the Athens charter, through the theory of Hernán Neira, Len Duhl and Trevor Hancock to the most contemporary manifestos of urban planners and designers, there is no doubt that, it is a concept widely addressed historically and from which a series of concepts regarding the contemporary reality of cities emerge. Design for human well-being allows exploring a series of tools to approach the urban environment. Although the design of our cities "is already late", we have the highest responsibility for the future of cities, starting from an analytical point of habitat production where this approach values above many other aspects the state of the ecosystem. The landscape should become an information system that allows the study for the development of applied research aimed at the generation of assertive urban strategies. Let us not stop asking ourselves what traces we are leaving for those scenarios in the future.

About the author:

Isamar Anicia Herrera Piñuelas 

Woman, citizen, passionate about environmental health. She has an architecture degree from the Technological Institute of La Paz with a specialty in construction companies. Master's degree in Sustainable and Bioclimatic Architecture from the International Federation for sustainable Architecture in Valencia, Spain and second master's degree in Pollution, Toxicology and Environmental Health. 8 years of urban activism and environmental activism for the UN as an ambassador for the SDGs. 

Professor at several universities in Mexico and Spain. As well as a researcher in the field of health and architecture. She has published in various research journals in architecture, as well as in international research congresses. Author of the book "Natura·lleza. Approach to a sensitive architecture". 

Founding partner of the sustainable architecture firm, Aion Plan.

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