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Striking a Balance: Adding and Removing in the Built Environment

As our cities and towns continue to evolve, the built environment undergoes constant transformation. We are naturally inclined to add new structures, amenities, and features to enhance our lives. However, it is equally important to consider the potential benefits of removing elements that no longer serve a purpose or have become obstacles. In this blog, we will explore why we are often focused on adding things to the built environment and delve into the advantages of selectively removing elements without significantly impacting our lives.

The Urge to Add

Humans have an innate desire to progress, improve, and innovate. This inclination reflects in our built environment as we constantly seek to add new structures and amenities.

Adding to the built environment is often driven by the need to accommodate a growing population or to create space for new activities. Additional housing, commercial centres, and infrastructure are necessary to meet the demands of a thriving society.

As new technologies emerge, we incorporate them into our environment to enhance functionality, efficiency, and connectivity. Examples include smart buildings, energy-efficient systems, and advanced transportation infrastructure.

Our environment reflects our values, aspirations, and evolving social dynamics. We often add to the built environment to accommodate changing lifestyles, cultural activities, and community needs. Examples of such additions include parks, recreational spaces, art installations, and community centers.

The Merits of Removal

While the impulse to add is understandable, there are several reasons why it is equally important to consider removing elements from the built environment. Here are some key advantages:

  • Enhancing Aesthetics and Functionality: Removing outdated or dilapidated structures can improve the overall aesthetics of an area. It creates opportunities for revitalization, allowing new and innovative designs to take their place. Removing obsolete infrastructure can also enhance functionality and efficiency, making way for modern alternatives.

  • Sustainability and Environmental Impact: The built environment has a significant ecological footprint. Removing unnecessary structures reduces energy consumption, resource usage, and waste generation. It promotes sustainable urban development, preserves green spaces, and contributes to a healthier human and wildlife environment.

  • Improved Mobility and Accessibility: Removing unnecessary barriers, such as unused or poorly designed roads or walkways, can enhance mobility and accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists, and those with mobility challenges. It opens up possibilities for creating safer and more inclusive urban spaces.

  • Preservation of Historical Heritage: Selective removal of elements in the built environment can help preserve and showcase historical landmarks, cultural heritage, and architectural treasures. By carefully determining what to remove, we can protect and celebrate the past while creating space for new developments.

Finding the Balance

While the idea of removing elements from the built environment may seem appealing, it is essential to strike a balance between adding and removing. Urban planning should involve long-term vision and comprehensive assessments to determine which elements are worth preserving, removing, or replacing.

When considering removal, explore opportunities for adaptive reuse. Converting existing structures can breathe new life into them while minimizing waste. Historic buildings can be repurposed for modern uses, preserving their cultural and architectural value.

Community Engagement

Involving local communities fosters a sense of ownership, facilitates transparency, and ensures that the removal or addition of elements aligns with the needs and desires of the people who will be most affected. Thus encouraging public participation in decision-making processes.

Also, by incorporating renewable energy, green spaces, and environmentally friendly materials, we can reduce the need for future removals. This is why we should emphasize sustainable and resilient design principles in new additions to the built environment.

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