City environments offers a lot; closeness to other people, closeness to shops, busninesses, activities.. or it should. In the early 90', a book called Varför är det så fult? (translated; Why so ugly?) discussed this and how the car is both the urban planner and the landscape architect. The author put the question to the eco-architect and researcher Bengt Warne and got this answer (translated); "it is due to the greed for power and money which has got to be a driving force in our society. Greed instead of love. Exploitation of people and nature have been profitable and also it has been given a status".
To understand it better, I want to, with some pictures, show how cars plan our cities and how cities can look like when no one wants to be the one that make cities more beautiful. In the picture above is the street between the Bus terminal and the Subway/Train Terminal in Oslo. Meaning, this is the first thing you meet when you arrive with bus or train. The street is a bridge, which I like. But what do we see when we enter this city? Cars, streets, huge buildings. Hi Oslo, nice to visit you!
When people don't feel the togetherness with their part of town, they don't care how it look like. Or to clean it up. At the first picture above, a huge garbage collection, exactly the same place as last time I visited Stockholm. Why? Why?
It is not only cars who smells.. in this picture above an area where it's dirty with environmental toxics in Stockholm. Wear safety clothes and be ready to inhale some, because this smells. They are going to clean it now, because they realized that they can build expensive apartments here. Maybe that is better than a toxic forest?
Oh, recycling! But what happens when people put their toilet stuff here... and other stuff..
This is the new Rail Station in Umeå (Nothern Sweden). No beauty here, only ugliness and a working place still. Asphalt, cars and some boring buildings is what meets you when you visit Umeå by train. Where is the city? (Answer; you need to take a car or bus there). But you can buy an apartment if you like and have the river as your view.
Nothing worked at the new station. Black signs and wrong track even if they only got 2. You can found your way here by car, but if you try anything else, by bus for example, this is what you have to handle; fence, a broken street and ugliness. Right picture is the other side of the station, the view here is unto the hospital. Just four days before these pictures was taken, Sweden's king was there and opened the station. Yes, a very glamorous look. Maybe he stayed inside the house and took the plane here as it takes 10 hour by train from Stockholm.
With examples from the Nordic countries, we might think the problem with ugly cities is more common in other countries, where the planning is "bad" and no garbage collection can be found at all. Like US, because of the cars, and cities where it is too crowded and poor, where City Development is just whats happen and not planned at all. But in fact, ugliness are spreading, as there are no profit in having beautiful cities. In those pictures here, from Istanbul, a lost city- beautiful in old times, now falling apart. Pictures shows some of the city's not so beautiful or safe spaces. The side of Istanbul where the tourists don't walk, a forgotten place.. Wants some more? See Ecocity Amersfoort just for its uniformity.
But what can we do about it? Can we make the connection between better health and more beauty in cities? As Bengt Warne said in the end of his argumentation; "Now we have to make peace with nature, both within us and around us. We need to make peace with our origins and our future. Today it is spoken more often about a sustainable society, a society in harmony with nature. Let us begin a love affair with nature".
Think about this wise words and do not forget that I try to visible the beautifulness in cities; take a look at my collection of Eco projects and feel some hope for humanity again!