Paperback - January 2009 - AU $130.00

A book about cities, ecology and climate change written by one of Australia’s leading advocates and pioneers of sustainable architecture.

In 2008, for the first time in human history, half of the world's population will live in cities. Yet despite a wealth of literature on green architecture and planning, there is to date no single book which draws together theory from the full range of disciplines – from architecture, planning and ecology – which we must come to grips with if we are to design future cities which are genuinely sustainable. + Full description

Paul Downtown's Ecopolis takes a major step along this path. It highlights the urgent need to understand the role of cities as both agents of change and means of survival, at a time when climate change has finally grabbed world attention, and it provides a framework for designing cities that integrates knowledge – both academic and practical – from a range of relevant disciplines.

Identifying key theorists, practitioners, places and philosophies, the book provides a solid theoretical context, and goes on to present a series of design and planning tools for achieving Sustainable Human Ecological Development (SHED). Combining knowledge from diverse fields to present a synthesis of urban ecology, the book will provide a valuable resource for students, researchers and practitioners in architecture, construction, planning, geography and the traditional life sciences.

- Short description


"The book has a very strong theoretical basis, relying on theories related not only to sustainability and urbanism but also sociology. This variety keeps the reader alert. But it is especially the way the author communicates that keeps the reader interested, speaking to activists and academics alike… Ecopolis is a comprehensive book. It covers multiple dimensions of sustainability, offering new perspectives rather than giving prescriptions."
Merve Bedir, Journal of Housing and the Built Environment (2010) 25:379-380

"If you want to delve into the history of where all these ecocity ideas come from, where they were developed in theory and experience, from the chalk on the blackboard kind of working out the essential geometries to the sweaty digging in the dirt, pouring concrete, working with wood, and planting rooftop and solar greenhouse gardens, you can find no better or more complete source.

…I ask again why it is the climate change scientists, activists, politicians and sympathetic journalist STILL haven't figured out the connection between city design and layout and the disasters they are working so hard to solve. These issues are big. They are connected. And they are about 90% solved right there in his book."
Richard Register, Ecocities Emerging, 2009

"In this context of anomalies and uncertainties Paul Downton's book is a welcome, optimistic and positive contribution. The structure of the book is clear and logical and the section titles are unambiguous and relevant to the text that follows. The writing style is engaging and easy to read…"
Caryl Bosman, Australian Planner, September 2009

"…a succession of chapters bring together crisp summaries of the attempts from the past to codify good urban development, from early western civilization onwards."
Emilis Prelgauskas, Architecture Australia, September-October 2009

"Challenging conventional definitions and limitations of architecture, Ecopolis argues the need for a symbiotic relationship between architecture, planning and ecology for the design of sustainable cities. He provides a comprehensive theory for achieving Sustainable Human Ecological Development (SHED)"
HIA, Greensmart, 2009

"Dozens of beautiful colour plates and hundreds of black-and-white illustrations make this book a joy to flip through. The book is also a treasure-trove of interesting quotes, everything from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Walt Whitman."
Robert McDonald, Landscape Ecology Vol 24 2009

“The book is an impressive, albeit lengthy, dissection and re-evaluation of current ecological models for city planning. Given the extensive research and case studies this book is an important resource for all who are interested in looking at the bigger picture of sustainable issues in the city and architecture.”
Futurarc, 2009


Paperback | January 2009 | $130.00
ISBN: 9780643095786 | 628 pages | 240 x 160 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour illustrations


Foreword by Ken Yeang
Introduction – The City Is My University
PART ONE – Propositions, Theory & Practice
The Ground Plan
An Epistemology for Urban Ecology
Architecture, Urbanism & Ecological Perspectives
Weavers of Theory
The Aesthetics of Ecopolis
Finding Fractals: Identifying Elements of the Ecopolis
Building Fractals: Ecopolis Projects in Australia
PART TWO – Towards a Theoretical Synthesis
Synthesis I: City Ecology
Synthesis II: ABC of EcoDevelopment
Synthesis III: Education, Advocacy and Activism
Synthesis IV: The SHED – Sustainable Human Ecological Development
Our Cities, Our Selves


With an established practice and a doctorate in environmental studies, Dr Paul Downton was a South Australian finalist for Australian of the Year 2008 for his work in the non-profit sector, and is editor and a primary author of the federal government’s Your Home Technical Manual. As driving force and designer of the well-known Christie Walk development in Adelaide, Paul Downton is uniquely qualified to bridge the gaps between theory and practice and illustrates his ideas with this, and other case studies.