University of Virgina professor Timothy Beatly premiered his new film, The Nature of Cities, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's Gillette Forum on October 29th. The film is an interesting overview of various ways in which nature and sustainable architecture are being incorporated into European and American cities. Geared towards people outside the design and science community, it's a great introduction to the concept of urban nature (exemplified by the work of Patrick Blanc, pictured above).
The film has several interesting vignettes, like a car-free development that is so eerily quiet you can follow the sound of waves to find a nearby beach. Or a week-long bio-blitz of a canyon in San Diego that allows kids who were previously warned about the 'danger' of the local canyon to explore it and identify the native plants and insects.
The most striking story in the film features the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, famous for its bat colony. The city has gone from trying to torch the bats under the bridge to setting up a protected area where crowds of people assemble to watch 1.5 million bats emerge in the evenings. Now, new bridges in Texas are being specifically designed to house bat colonies. Imagine if more of our buidings and infrastructure were built this way! It's a fascinating to see the shift in construction from environmentally harmful, to environmentally neutral, to environmentaly positive.