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In the book, the author Ian McHarg is trying to state
guidelines to follow if we want to build a new, healthier relationship between
the built environment and nature. Through his book, Design with Nature, he
talks about how it is of utmost importance to consider ecology and its
principles before designing any urban settlement. His strong belief of the
thought that for any design to thrive, it has to work around the natural
ecology of its contextual surroundings is reiterated throughout the course of
the book. He makes some very important suggestions that can help us rationalize
our design decisions and create more productive landscapes. McHarg is setting
up, in a way, an instruction manual for designers to analyze a region or
cityscape before deciding on its land-use. He points out to how we fail in
understanding the anatomy of any given region or consciously decide to ignore
it which leads to land used wrongly. This, in turn, results in massive natural
revolts like the example he sites of the New Jersey storm which lead to mass
destruction and loss of property and human life. McHarg even makes
recommendations that could reverse the destructive effects of unplanned
developments. He instructs very precisely on how nature can be successfully
reintroduced into the urban fabric of cities.

The book deals with a variety of issues that allow us to
understand the similarity and coherence between man and nature. The author
postulates an ecological value system fit for specific land uses so that
minimal adaptation is required. In one of the chapter, the naturalists, McHarg
makes a very noteworthy point that designs cannot create a Utopia for everyone
as everyone’s definition of utopia will be different. Instead, it is important
to explore how both built environment and nature can be used to their full
potential without having detrimental effects on each other. The styles in which
these explorations are suggested seem an amalgamation of philosophical and ecological

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The biggest positive of the book would lie in its
contemporary solutions to long existing issues. Hence, this book can be treated
as a handbook for architects and planners even today who want to move towards
aware and balanced urban design, planning and sustainability.

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