15 Pages

Agency, assemblages and ecologies of the contemporary city

ByGraham Livesey

Contemporary cities comprise complex systems of interlocking and overlapping ecolo-

gies; as consumers of resources and producers of waste, cities contribute significantly

to many current environmental challenges. In order to become more effective as eco-

systems, or to reduce consumption and waste, cities need to be better harmonized

with the ecologies they participate in. Historically, cities have been highly artificial envi-

ronments reliant on largely mono-functional, channelized and non-integrated infrastruc-

ture. Together with the heavy modification of landscape and ecologies caused by

urbanization this has led to environments that are intensely interrupted and not ecologi-

cally effective. To be effective cities need to have more interconnected flows of

resources, energy, organisms, information, nutrients, etc. Contemporary cities need to

achieve a dynamic, and sustainable, balance between producers, consumers and

decomposers within complex ecosystems. In order to briefly explore questions of

agency and the environment with respect to contemporary cities this chapter will

engage the concept of ‘assemblage’, as formulated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guat-

tari, and structural ideas taken from landscape ecology.