Monday, September 24, 2007

Ecocities/Green Urbanism

For my chapter I read chapter 4, history and the city. Register provides a background for the evolution of the village to the city. He explains how often cities formed with a "ehh.. why not?" mentality, in that what wasn't allowed in the villages due to culture watching (he gives the example of the village not allowing the destruction of a tree). He then goes on to explain the role industry had on cities, how automobiles defined space, how they also created assembly lines, creating the ideal of efficiency. He explains the purposeful destruction of rail lines by parties interested in the financial benefit of automobiles. He also takes positive aspects of the past life of the village and how they could apply to the present city.

I choose this article to begin with because every action is placed in relation to its past as well as present. While creating visions off of the present is important, it is just as important to understand how they got there, what made these factors stay the way they were, and which ones of them are easily changed. While Register provided an interesting examination of cities movements away from villages, he occasionally seemed to put too much desire for the past, ignoring the present. He idolized the cultures of the village and living off the land, and seemed to advocate a movement back, however this is obviously not viable with todays conditions. The interesting and important idea to take away from Register is his idea of cohesive planning. After switching out of architecture I can understand his worry about the architect who builds to separate from the local environment. All too often architecture is viewed as creating the next most amazing piece of lived in artwork, and the architect does not focus enough on how the building sits in the environment or the message it send. He/she may build to zoning codes, or go through the steps to make what is an eco-friendly building but if it is not put into the bigger whole how effective is it really? Despite what I found to occationally be maybe slightly unrealistic ideas posed by Richardson, he did bring up many ways to begin creating ecocities, like that of creating 1/4 mile radius walking areas. Beatly also discusses the issues of time in creating the city, but places it in a much more realistic light, realizing that the we cannot backtrack on what we have done, that we must move forward. Other interesting points brought up by Beatly are the idea of privatization of space (if it wasn't directly talked about it was definitely in there), a question to consider is how to create spaces while still keeping them public.

One issue or rather worry that I found with Richard Register's ideas was his occasional lack of the social issue. This issue came up with the idolizing of the past as well, one idea that slightly disturbed me (and I might have just been reading wrong) was Register's lack of seeing the positives to the present city, not considering social mixing. He urges to bridge history, nature, and evolution, but where are the people in this equation? Other issues I found with Richardson was the worry of gentrification when it comes to adding in the public transportation.

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