Friday, April 30, 2010

Know Your City Better, Look at it thru a Scientist's Eyes

It has always seemed to me that many defenders of sprawl, aren't really defending the actual everyday world that is defined by sprawl. Sometimes it stems from property rights (although any property owner NOT thinking about their neighbor is shooting themselves in the foot).

For others it is a misplaced anxiety about losing their home, their abode, the stuff they love inside the house. Rarely, do they really love what is outside the walls of their house. This is why home selling so often veered into pedaling improved niceties for the petty bourgeois: granite counter tops, a jacuzzi tub, a game room, etc. etc. All nice things sure. But, more often, in order to afford that place, the house ends up being constructed about as well as a bird's nest with paper, sticks, and spit. (Maybe THAT's what Herzog and DeMeuron were saying?)

But is life really better when you don't want to leave the house? When their is no amenity a few steps from the front door?

My guess is that the majority of sprawl defenders and attackers of "urbanism" are really those just afraid of change. Evolutionally (sic) speaking, these people have a purpose. They are wired to ensure that change has to prove itself. That we don't keep wandering down wrong roads and dead ends of false progress (see anything designed recently by Steven Holl).

With that, I bring up one of the first two rules of science:
Look at things right under your nose as if you've never seen them before, then proceed from there.
Which looks like a better place to Work? To Shop? To Play? To Converse? To Laugh? To Live? To Love?

The following photo-sets represent two distinctly different "genotypes" of place: the tax, zoning, and transportation policies shaping the physical form, the phenotype, of cities.

Set 2:
Image from MyUrbanist.