Creating an Ecological Historic District: Rethinking a Chinese Challenge through the Case of Oakland District, Pittsburgh
The urbanization process in China, characterized by unprecedented scale, speed and range, resulted in a severe loss of historic communities and traditional urban morphology. Preservation of "obsolete" historic districts has been constantly threatened by large-scale demolitions. With the emergence of livability as an integral goal, historic district renovation has increasingly been taking a more progressive approach, with radical visions on eco-cultural resilience and cultural evolution. The
... ving notion of "ecological city", with systemic and integral objectives, evaluation systems and practical strategies and technologies, holds potential for guiding sustainable development in communities, meanwhile supporting the dynamic involvement of cultures. However, implementation of eco-cities in China almost exclusively target previously undeveloped areas and was never realized in historic districts. The loss of sense of place in historic districts, the demand for livable communities, as well as the rise of territorialisation prompt us to explore this specific question: can we make a historic district ecological and livable at the same time? The goal of this paper is to explore planning methodologies, building on the evaluation systems developed for ecocities, in order to create livable and ecological historic districts, i.e., eco-historic districts. Through the case study of Oakland district in Pittsburgh, PA, the merits and demerits of existing development and future plan of historic districts were discussed. By analyzing, comparing, and combining various eco-city evaluation indexes, we developed a new eco-city index system that was spatially and temporally re-scaled to the district's hierarchy for the creation of ecological historic districts. In particular, we integrated both cultural and social aspects, i.e., the five drivers of livability, society, culture, nature, and economy, to offer a comprehensive contribution to the spatial strategies for renovating historic districts.