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Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 845; doi:10.3390/su9050845

Sustopia or Cosmopolis? A Critical Reflection on the Sustainable City

Department of Health, Ethics and Society, Maastricht University, 6200MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
Academic Editors: Mark Rosenberg, Wuyi Wang, Thomas Krafft, Linsheng Yang and Yang Cheng
Received: 16 April 2017 / Revised: 11 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 18 May 2017
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Abstract

A broader perspective on the role of cities and their relation to their inhabitants and the planet is essential to effectively answer urgent sustainability questions that emerge in and beyond cities. This essay provides a critical reflection on the notion of the sustainable city. The central question discussed is: how can the ideal of a sustainable city be best conceptualised? Through exploring historic and contemporary theories on the urban-nature-people relationship and analysing some current sustainable city projects with the help of Cultural Theory, it is argued that creating a sustainable city paradoxically means parting with Sustopia. Sustopia often turns into Dystopia when a single perspective on constructing a sustainable city becomes dominant. In order to assist the process of meaningfully conceptualising the sustainable city, the notion of Cosmopolis is re-explored. This notion of a city embraces creativity, critical practice, adaptation, and it places urban development and planning in a context of multiple spatial and temporal scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban sustainability; cultural theory; perspectives; urban-nature relationship; urban development; critical theory urban sustainability; cultural theory; perspectives; urban-nature relationship; urban development; critical theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Beumer, C. Sustopia or Cosmopolis? A Critical Reflection on the Sustainable City. Sustainability 2017, 9, 845.

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