Authors Name: 
Matej Silecky
University of California, Berkeley
Gender Studies & Anthropology
Highly commended

Satoyama in the City: How this Concept and Green Roofs can be used to Promote Sustainability in Urban Areas

Environmental design can both implement direct environmental improvement and encourage future changes, but it cannot do so sustainably if it ignores community culture. Green roofs are typically viewed as a utilitarian part of a building that has environmental benefits. However, when developed in consideration of culture and nature, they can be an integral design element that improves community life, increases habitat and connection with nature, thereby encouraging even further environmental improvements. This is especially important in urban settings because the majority of the world population lives in cities (Global Health Facts). Tokyo provides compelling examples: through recognition of satoyama as a significant part of Japanese culture, the goal of recreating a harmonious relationship with nature is applied to many projects – large and small – in Tokyo, including green roofs. These designs create an immediate positive impact, but also are intended to encourage others to similar action. As the efforts expand, the sought-after harmonious relationship increases, and becomes more “resilient” and sustainable. A similar approach can be successfully applied to green roof design projects in other urban areas. Rather than simply installing a green roof for immediate energy savings instead of a painted white or black roof, the green roof can be viewed as a design element that acknowledges a culture’s relationship with nature. This symbolism, joined with a measurable improvement to the community, encourages a more sustainable environmental ethic.