Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

"I heard the great urban planner Paolo Soleri speak way back in 1965 about the benefits of a compact city designed for pedestrians—ie, humans—instead of sprawling, anonymous suburbs built for cars. I took his notions seriously.
In Soleri’s notion, the compact city was more like cities in Europe than those then spreading in a thin veneer across the United States. The car would be replaced as the primary mode of motorized transportation by the streetcar and the elevator.
If we could push the idea of the compact city of enormous variety—Soleri used the words “complexity” and “density”—the whole thing could run on something like a tenth of the energy, all renewable, and cover just a fifth of the land, compared to a sprawl city of the same population, making it possible to have nature and agriculture immediately next door. Just take the stairs or an elevator ride and you could walk or bike out in the country in a matter of a few short minutes.

Bottom line: we need a geographically smaller city, but that is possible only if we shift from two-dimensional design dependent on cars to a more three-dimensional city designed around the human body. The new city needs to grow upwards, not outwards.
Elsewhere, major district centers would become small cities or towns in their own right and neighborhood centers would become villages of varying sizes, each with its own character. Buildings would, on average, be higher, houses would be replaced by apartments and cars by bicycles, walkable streets, streetcars, and elevators. Pleasurable and beautiful places like rooftop gardens and restaurants, multi-story solar greenhouses and bridges with spectacular views connecting buildings would predominate, along with renewable energy and closed-in organic agriculture. It would be the start of a new green economy.
Such cities would be places to further the ecological health of human society and whatever we mean by “nature” on this planet. But, equally important, such cities would be places to grow and develop ever more “human” humans. Thus we help further both ecological health and our own evolution at the same time."

Richard Register from Ecocity Builders writes at What matters. Read the full article here; Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

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