Sep '06 - Nov '08
We've been charged to discover new implications for the city. We've been given a program that allows for a city to evolve in phases-2-4 thousand each phase to a maximum of 30 thousand. the Site is in the desert in Nevada about 80 miles from a medium sized city. A research and manufacturing plant is to be the primary reason for the new city.
We've been told the typical suburban life will not do, but we are to consider new ways of making the city.
Personally, I feel like the program is setting us up to fail. A visiting professor who teaches our Level II theory course that deals specificaly with urban determinants is joining our studio as a design critic. The esays we have read deal specifically with all the things that have screwed cities up-primarily anything that has been predetermined, platonic, and controlling.
The task makes me feel so timid because it is basically an absurd task to try to make something from scratch-something that characteristically evolves over time.
Here are some thoughts I typed up quickly on my flight back from Thanksgiving today:
THE CITY HAS TRADITIONALLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO EVOLVE ITSELF. THIS EVOLUTION HAS BEEN THE RESULT OF MANY DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS. MARKET FORCES, GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT, AND NATURE.
THE CONCEPT OF MAKING SOMETHING NEW. A CITY DETERMINED BY NOTHING OTHER THAN THE MIND OF A PLANNER SEEMS TO BE GROUNDS TO FAIL FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. HOW THEN DOES ONE CONSIDER THE DYNAMIC AND COMPLEX REALITY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, ITS CULTURAL NORMS, RITUALS, BELIEFS, AND PRACTICES, AND RESPOND TO THEM APPROPRIATELY WITH BUILT FORM? THE CONTENT OF THE CITY IS THE RESULT OF TIME, HARD WORK, AND THE ETHOS OF MANY, NOT JUST ONE. ESSENTIALLY, THIS REALITY SEEMS TO BE THE REASON FOR THE PROBLEMS AND SHORTCOMINGS OF THE SUBURB FOR THOSE WHO CARE.
COULD A PLANNER SHAPE FORM THAT FACILITATES HUMANITY'S COMPLEXITY?
IF A NEW CITY IS NEEDED BASED ON THE CONDITIONS OF THE MARKET, THE GOVERNMENT, AND NATURE, WHAT COULD A PLANNER DO TO RESOLVE SUCH A TASK?
MANY ASSUMPTIONS WOULD BE MADE WITHIN A GROUP ASKED TO SOLVE SUCH A TASK.
ARE THESE ASSUMPTIONS RELEVANT?
WHAT ARE THE ASSUMPTIONS?
KEEPING THE SACRED
PRESERVING THE EARTH
Well, that is about as far as I got. I am bothered by the notion that one could just decide the form of a city. It is difficult to even diagram ideas because they imply something that could turn out really bad.
I realize this is a speculative project-that it is a way to think about things in different terms.
For practical purposes, I did try to take some of my own assumptions and diagram them into some sort of beginning as I make sense of it all.
the idea is to use "the park" or green space as a catalyst for shaping space. Instead of the park or public places being places we have "to go to," would it be more appropriate to consider them as places where "we already are?"
I am still working through how to gather the other programmatic realities, typical of a city. I want to also consider the potential of public transportation being a vector that the different phases can be arranged upon. Essentially, the outcome would be a linear city. I realize there are downsides to this, but right now, diagramtically, I am interested in how this works.
Any thoughts are appreciated.