ECOLOGICAL INTENSIFICATION

The urban strategy that enabled CPULs to happen and to grow to what they are now, in 2045, was called Ecological Intensification (named ‘Carrot City’ by London architects a few years later). In London (as in most European cities), this incremental strategy has been applied since about the year 2005.

Ecological Intensification worked by prioritising envi­ronmental urban layers, which were either connected to open space use, or to implementing sustainable technology and activity patterns. Usually, these environmental layers were then superimposed with other locally appropriate layers, such as economic, social, cultural, historical, etc.

As a result of this process, London has become (and is still becoming) a real ‘Carrot City’: sustain­able, integral, working out of itself, but within its capacities, allowing and needing the participation of its citizens as well as offering real lifestyle choices.

The London boroughs, for example, applied individual development strategies centred around innovative ways of connecting and reconnecting urban work, trade and leisure activities. These were thought of as the basis for an exchange of products and services, and succeeded in supporting local productivity patterns and thereby an economic prosperity all over London.

Over the last 40 years, since about 2005, London has developed into a city where national and interna­tional exchange brought mainly those goods and services into the city which it was not possible to pro­vide from within. Through concentration on its local expertise and workforce, London (and Greater London) has grown to strong economic identity through its excellent and eccentric products. At the same time, it regained a national and international market lost for decades because of the closure or takeover of most of its unique factories, farms, foods and fashions. Employment figures in London (and all over Britain) have rocketed over the past twenty years. London was also able to share in tackling the international problems originating from export-based production in developing and poorer countries, such as exploitation, cheap/child labour, mono-cultures or – industries, and uncontrolled environmental damage. Most of those problems had long been recognised as reasons for the large population influx into twentieth century cities in the first place.

All this development has highlighted the exotic in international products, i. e. food products such as – example for this book – fruit and vegetables. Contrary to food trading methods in the early twenty – first century, exotic fruit and vegetables were now only sold when ripe and tasty. Suddenly, these ‘spe­cial foods’ could promote their true flavour, colour or texture, celebrating their geographical and cultural difference at London tables. As people now favoured, for various reasons, a majority of locally produced foods, the exotic compliment became again exotic, leaving room to explore the local. Food

and eating – an informed choice between staple and healthy, fresh and exotic, local and organic – grew to real importance in people’s daily routines. In London (and anywhere else), this did not only result in peo­ple’s improved general health. Economically, it led to higher payment for better quality farming and retail, higher employment rates due to more careful han­dling of food, i. e. in smaller retail units, and less food and therefore energy waste, both on a national and international level. Altogether, the changes to the food sector resulted in decreasing environmental problems as over-production, mono-cultures and mass-transportation became issues of the past. . .

Such shifts in urban lifestyle were crucial for any shifts in urban landscape. In London, as well as other ‘Carrot Cities’, Ecological Intensification gen­erated not only employment, capital and liveliness, but also a different relationship to open urban space. The new lifestyle options on offer in combi­nation with the multitude of efforts to improve the urban fabric, restored positive attitudes towards the city, discouraging, for example, people from moving out of cities into suburbia, one of the major urban problems of the turn of the century.