Howler and Yoon, winners of the Audi Urban Future Award image a NYC where roads become soccer fields and solar panels.
Do you know what else Manhattan is largely comprised of? Rooftops… where more solar panels should go. Hint hint…
Just an aside… I like the fact that the top graphic highlights Lower Manhattan and part of Midtown in its 23.2% of households portions considering the devastation of superstorm Sandy back in the fall. I think it’s much more telling of the possibilities for disaster prevention/recovery in the city because of that.
A major criticism of dense urban centers is a lack of connection to nature. Although the ‘real thing’ can’t be substituted, there are man-made parks that create an experience of nature amongst the concrete jungle. Think Central Park in Manhattan - a contained green space designed to deliberately obscure sight lines to give the illusion of physical and mental escapism from the surrounding urban environment and the fast and sometimes overwhelming pace of city life. Its design intentionally mimics nature with lakes, ponds, and winding paths through trees that contrast the rigidity of Manhattan’s grid of streets. But with less and less sizable expanses of open space in cities for “authentic looking” nature oases, introducing natural elements into a city must be done in a more deliberate way. Unused or underused urban space is reclaimed and natural elements are used as a “building tool” to carefully create an experience of interaction with nature without masquerading as the real thing. Honest design expression in a time calling for resourceful and sustainable solutions to our human needs.
Upon seeing this photo, was anyone else’s first thought “That would make a lovely small dog park for the residents of that building”? Anyone?
Sometimes we tend to circumscribe the possibilities of tactical and temporary urbanism to urban spaces of limited size (urban voids) or open spaces expected to be public (parks, plazas, streets, etc.), thinking only of their usefulness as small-scale interventions. However, in the current times of economic crisis in which so many large scale urban developments are stalled or have simply seen the implementation of the plan will take longer than originally envisaged, we cannot afford to maintain these urban spaces waiting better times to return for the developer to complete the plan for years and years. Can we do more than contemplate the fences that enclose these halted building sites?
Leon Krier`s growth of a city. [via urbanination]
Is sprawl not social engineering towards a different end?
Yes indeedy. Sprawl is the product of social engineering on probably the largest scale we’ve ever seen in the US. I watched the incredible Pruitt-Igoe Myth documentary last night and it references this — the way that local and federal government stepped in to allow the white-flight and sprawl boom to happen in the 1950s-60s.
New zoning regulations ensured that the only form of development possible in many counties was detached-use sprawl for the middle class (with no chance for apartments to accommodate low-income people). Highway infrastructure accommodated the commuting needs of people in this car-oriented environment, while making alternative transportation options infeasible in much of the landscape.
Charles Marohn calls sprawl the US “suburban experiment” and, economically, a failed one. I think we’ll need to let a generation of baby boomers pass us by, though, before the US can accept that this is indeed a failed experiment in social engineering. Too many people are emotionally attached to car-centric subdivisions and strip malls as the best development form possible — and blind to the government intervention that made this form not only possible but obligatory.