Tuesday 5 May 2009

New Urbanism: redeeming cities

No time today for more than a pointed little jibe: Why do we have to burn fuel, fray our nerves, waste our time, piecing our lives together out of a tangled mass of commutes?
The answer, of course, is that nobody wants to live in our inner cities the way they are. It’s a matter of history, but is it a necessity?
If we don’t like your city, could we improve it until we do, rather than simply dumping it and sprawling out to the next ’burb?
Responding to the challenge of this so-called “new Urbanism” would involve reversing the habits of 200 years, but could it help make our lives massively more sustainable, and even enjoyable, as we became more plugged into our localities in a different way...


Vinaigrette girl said...

A little-argued element in the anti-second-homes discussion: if all those elites who justify moving into vacation properties by saying "look how much money we bring in" would either rejuvenate their own urban communities, or actually MOVE to those extra-urban localities... but doing the good that lies nearest to their hands tends to be a bit too personal. You're right, though, living in decent urban spaces, putting the Urban Splash firm out of business, would require a huge change in people's habits. We can but hope and pray.

Martin said...

1. Jane Jacobs "The death and life of great American Cities"

2. Bentley et al "Responsive Environments" (Oxford Brookes Joint Centre for Urban Design was closely allied to that book)

3. CABE - Commission for architecture and the built environment

...Aspiration for city & sustainable living. From my experience many public agencies developing / designing the built environment talk about sustainablity, but tend to focus on the micro (how to build a house sustainably) at the expense of the urban design / fabric. Not enough practitioners know about such books / organisations referred above. So often the decisions are driven by numbers ie short-term development costs. Such a waste.

Song in my Heart said...

In London, at least, people do want to live in the inner city or as near their work as possible. That's why housing gets more expensive the further in you get.

Not centralising our work habits will require significant changes, but they are coming, I think. One thing I'm certainly looking forward to after I finish my degree is being able to work from home more (this will require me to move: I cannot practise where I live now) and getting more involved with local community rather than having to spend 2 hours a day getting to and from my place of study.

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