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Toolkit for urban regenerative environments

2011-2012 | Masters of Science in Sustainable Design Thesis
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, US | thesis download | toolkit

Our cities are built dependent on centralized systems of water and waste management, food and energy production. This practice has proven efficient for a while; nonetheless as our cities expand with immense speed and population increases, severe issues of food access, waste accumulation, floods, water contamination and increased energy demand reveal the obsolescence of those systems.

“At the same time that we must respond to climate change and rising energy costs, we must also adjust our housing stock to fit a changing demographic and find more frugal form of prosperity. Such a transformation will require deep change, not just in energy sources, technology, and conservation measures but also in urban design, culture and lifestyles. More than just deploying green technologies and adjusting our thermostats, it will involve rethinking the way we live and the underlying form of our communities.” (Calthorpe, 2011)


The solution does not lie anymore only in conservation and precautionary measures but in a diverse way of thinking and redesigning existing infrastructures. Through this thesis, several systems of urban agriculture, decentralized water management and treatment, as well as energy production from waste were identified and studied through literature review and actual case studies. The ultimate goal of the research was to create a toolkit for urban regenerative environments, which will be used to introduce those systems to designers and communities. The toolkit is meant to educate designers and communities and help them test different decentralized infractures through co-design, providing quantitative insights between the spatial demands of each system and its efficiency.

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