Prof’s new book explores theory and practice of serene urbanism

Phillip Tabb

In his new book, Philip Tabb, Texas A&M professor of architecture, explores the theory of “serene urbanism” and how he brought it to life as the master planner for Serenbe, an environmentally friendly development near Atlanta.

 Environments created according to the principles of serene urbanism facilitate vibrant social interaction and contemplative spiritual reflection via the skillful and diverse pairing of urbanism and nature, said Thomas Barrie and Julio Bermudez in the foreword to Tabb’s book, “Serene Urbanism: A Biophilic Theory and Practice of Sustainable Placemaking.”

 The theory offers holistic alternatives to traditional development practices and the most dependable means of securing a more hopeful and meaningful future, they said.

 Tabb’s master plan for Serenbe features miles of nature trails connecting homes with farm-to-table restaurants, shops, art galleries and businesses in four hamlets, each focused on a theme — art, agriculture, health and education.

 “Propositions of new urban models abound, but it is quite rare to find actual examples that test such speculations,” said Barrie and Bermudez. “Tabb also presents a seasoned and realistic set of tested urban strategies, elements, concepts and organizations.”

 In his book, the author demonstrates an understanding that nature can enable architects and planners to create authentic, deeply rooted places, said Frederick Steiner, dean of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. “This thoughtful, timely book bridges theory and practice and should interest those with a desire to better understand sustainable urban design and planning.”

 In his book, Tabb, holder of the Liz and Nelson Mitchell Professorship in Residential Design at the Texas A&M Department of Architecture, establishes a framework of serene urbanism through contemporary perspectives.

 The idea of the serene, when combined with urbanism, he said, raises questions and implies contradictions that present challenges for designers and planners.

 He also explores beneficial qualities of urbanism and serenity and relates them to sustainability, placemaking, environmental design and biophilia, a concept introduced by biologist Edward Wilson that suggests an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.

 In his other publications, Tabb co-authored an analysis of “green” architecture from 1960-2010 and co-edited a book of essays challenging designers to consider spirituality as an everyday part of the world, rather than as an a concern primarily limited to the design of buildings for organized religion.

posted November 2, 2016