Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eco-cities intro and ch 1 ( i know, I'm a week behind)

The intro to this book discusses cities as they are today. Discussion of how and why they from is followed by a critique of western cities and the huge impact that cars have on the land use and design of cities.

Chapter one starts by laying out the framework for the title of the chapter "As We Build, So SHall We Live." The author talks about the odd dichotomy of people being extremely interested in sustainability and ecocity design and yet the trend is flowing in the opposite direction. This seems to be occurring because people are only thinking in piecemeal ways and not in a comprehensive way. The thinking follows that society no longer has to be at war with nature, we should be able to understand it and use nature's cycles as inspiration for our designs. Register critiques cities with a western influence because the greenspace afforded in european cities is over manicured and essentially only there for visual appeal, as opposed to multiple purposes. The idea that "a man's house is his castle" is harshly critiqued and the dynamics of a european castle city are contrasted to a native community's city. The native city is designed as rooms within one house, while a castle imposes a division of tasks that reduces efficiency. Essentially, if we design on a human scale we will be set for life.

I think that I will have to stop reading the beginning chapters of these books because I keep being frustrated by the romanticism and repetition that flows through these types of books. Register over romanticizes the native style city and his optimism for the optimal eco-city also adds to be urge to reject his other more insightful parts of his writing.

I can connect to this reading and to the critique I'm making to it with the ecovillage at Ithaca. There are numerous assets to this form of community, but at the same time it's residents are disproportionately upper-middle class, middle aged, Caucasian families-- which is certainly no representation of any non-intensional community.

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