Were I an architect-deity, I would create an Eschereque subway system linking all the cities in the world. The tunnels themselves, and the people decanted from one place to the other, would eventually create an Ecumenopolis: a single and continuous city, enlaced and endless. Where this the case I could get on the F train at Delancey Street, Manhattan, and — after a couple of changes midtown — emerge in the night-markets of Taipei, or near the Roman baths of Budapest. Or perhaps even downtown Urville.
Bosporus, Istanbul Landscape by Gijs Kast (from the book Başıboş).
"Cities are—and have always been—highly differentiated spaces expressive of heterogeneity, diversity of activity, excitement, and pleasure. They are arenas for the pursuit of un-oppressed activities and desires, but…
Change will not come if we stop and wait for some other person or some other time. If we want change to happen, we need to look within ourselves. We are the change that we seek.
A book: Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook
A book. Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook edited by Jonathan Solomon, Clara Wong, Adam Frampton (published by ORO Editions) explores a city of Hong Kong known for being a global city, but, and more interestingly, a city without ground made up of unfathomable paths of pedestrian bridges, tunnels and walkways. As Spanish Metalocus wrote, “it is possible to walk all day without ever having to set foot on the ground.”
This book is in my wish-list. I warmly recommend to read Metalocus's article on the book.
City cores are now rather accepting of anyone with money, be they wealthy South American immigrants or upper middle-class African Americans. So the city core is this integrated city, in which we can smile at each other and say it’s okay, we’re all hip, we’re not racists. But if you look at who is being kicked out, it’s becoming a very class-based city (and the class that’s being kicked out is black or brown). And that’s something that’s very dangerous.
I am reading a conversation between Kazys Varnelis, Historian of city and director of NetLab (Network Architecture Lab) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and The Straddle (I believe the interviewer is The Straddle. At the very least, this is where I found this conversation) posted in 2011 on The Straddler. Above is a quote I found interesting to share. But read this post entirely, this is my best advice. And I couldn’t but post an abstract:
As a historian, I worry that we have lost our ability to think historically about the present day. From the eighteenth century through the 1980s, we situated ourselves in the world using historical modes of explanation. But then something changed. Jean Baudrillard talked about this quite a bit in the 1990s. He said that in our media-saturated environment, we are so overexposed to events that we are unable to order them or make sense of them anymore. Instead, he suggested that we were caught up in a millenarianism, obsessing about the end of things, most notably the “end of history” — invoking Fukuyama and the end of the history hypothesis — and that we would even cease talking about that once we were done counting down to the millenium. And it’s as if we did.
Yes, there are moments like 9/11, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, or the financial crash, and maybe in hindsight we will be able to put these in some kind of better framework. But the sense that history has any kind of lived reality has in many ways come to an end. Books that are consumed today don’t aim to situate us historically. Histories of Salt, Cod, Oysters, or Bananas proliferate. These are countless secret histories and microhistories of events in the past, but we have precious few successful attempts to situate ourselves historically. While there were problems with everyone reading Oswald Spengler, there were also some real benefits in people thinking of themselves as part of a historical continuum. I feel like we aren’t able to do that at all right now, and so as a result we aren’t able to reflect critically on our world…
Source: The Straddle
Cities are like electrical transformers: they increase tension, accelerate exchanges, and are endlessly churning human lives
Over the past two years, I have been having an ongoing conversation with Chantal Mouffe about these issues. Chantal has written extensively on the struggle of politics and the radical heart of demographic life, trying to understand why, in the kind of society we are living in today — which she calls a post-political society — there is an increasing disaffection with democratic institutions. Her main thesis, as I understand it, is that the dimension of the political is linked to the dimension of conflict that exists in human societies — the ever-present possibility of antagonism. The reason why I have been very interested in this exchange was to understand how this agonistic struggle could be imagined and tested in spatial settings or frameworks which would allow us to envisage a struggle between different interpretations of shared principles, a conflictual consensus, as Chantal says. Agonism as a constructive form of political conflict might offer an opportunity for constructive expression of disagreements. From my point of view, this becomes most interesting at an institutional scale, a microcosm, which essentially could reflect society at large. The post-political society that Chantal refers to its one in which we are constantly being told that the partisan model of politics has been overcome, that there is no more Left and Right — there is, as you say, this kind of consensus at the center, in which there is really no possibility for an alternative. This is precisely why there is a serious need for the creation of agonistic publics and public spaces. When I say public space, I refer to a “becoming spatial” of political forms of exchange. One could argue that any form of participation is already a form of conflict. In order to participate in an environment or a given situation, one needs to understand the forces of conflict that act upon that environment. How can one move away from romanticized notions of participation into more pro-active, conflictual models of engagement? Can you please elaborate on this in the context of what you are trying to achieve.
by Jan Gehl
For more than forty years Jan Gehl has helped to transform urban environments around the world based on his research into the ways people actually use, or could use, the spaces where they live and work. In this revolutionary book, Gehl presents his latest work creating (or recreating) cityscapes on a human scale. He clearly explains the methods and tools he uses to reconfigure unworkable cityscapes into the landscapes he believes they should be: cities for people.
Taking into account changing demographics and changing lifestyles, Gehl emphasizes four human issues that he sees as essential to successful city planning. He explains how to develop cities that are Lively, Safe, Sustainable, and Healthy. Focusing on these issues leads Gehl to think of even the largest city on a very small scale. For Gehl, the urban landscape must be considered through the five human senses and experienced at the speed of walking rather than at the speed of riding in a car or bus or train. This small-scale view, he argues, is too frequently neglected in contemporary projects.