Archinect

University of Houston (Michael)

 

Archived

Sep '06 - Nov '08

 
  • anchor

    Walden III: Seeking A New City

    ichweiB Nov 27 '06 8

    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?
    COMMUNITY
    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.
    image

    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.

     

     
    • 8 Comments

    • Arnaud M.
      Nov 27, 06 10:22 pm

      I totally agree with you and Urban Planning is just another word for totalitarianism and guarantee of failure.
      The only think I can think of is designing a city as an living organism that will evolve itself.
      Maybe you can set up rules that define that and let it grow.
      I have yet to make a post on my interm crit, that will explain what my thesis is about and I think we're kinda working on the same thing although a very different scales.

      ichweiB
      Nov 28, 06 12:57 am

      Yeah,
      We've decided that an appropriate way of thinking about it is with the premise that it would be an organic reality in the sense that it can grow and even adapt. The program requires that the city grow in phases, so this naturally allows for it.

      Anyhow, we'll see...

      Becker
      Nov 28, 06 5:37 am

      tokyo is great, and even better when it has a tall tower next to a tiny laundray in a 2 story building. planning should only go so far.

      will gallowaywill galloway
      Nov 28, 06 6:09 am

      you might enjoy reading "seing like a state", by james scott. he shares many of your views of planners attempting to control the world too much, and the problems therein, but also explains why that approach is in many ways necessary. i like his description of brasilia, but like his discussion on agri-business even more. very enlightening.

      toky, btw, has very strict planning rules. the limit of their effect is very low though, for lots of complicated reasons... but the result is that there is not so much micromanaging going on. which is hard for planners and architets to take i think...sort of like freedom of speech. great idea but means good comes with bad and you are obliged to defend the crap as well as the good stuff.

      the idea of cities needing evolution to be real is a tuf one. spiro kristof makes a good point in his books about the city, namely that urban form is not as important as how its used, so making form based on whatever makes you smile is pretty much legitimate, as it will change on its own later on. least that is the theory.

      AP
      Nov 28, 06 8:40 am

      once you've created your linear rhythm, fold it in on itself.

      loop the diagram. and leave wiggle room. always.

      treekiller
      Nov 28, 06 12:46 pm

      nevada is full of ghost towns and abandoned mining camps. the primary constraint limiting towns out in the desert is the lack of potable water- if cost in no object then a new pipe can be run for the 100+ miles to the new city. local groundwater tends to be very limited.

      so if you can figure out a way to create a settlement following frank herbert's dune that recycles 100% of water- then you may have a chance.

      jwo
      Nov 28, 06 3:52 pm

      Yeah I agree with you, you have a tough assignment. You may as well be designing a colony on the moon. (You do that at UH too, don't you?)
      Obviously you probably won't have much to respond to in the desert, so I would think designing the city based on the nature and movement of people and culture could be one generator. It could be really interesting though, because it seems like what will result from this should not have any semblance to any existing model of the built environment.

      ichweiB
      Nov 28, 06 5:52 pm

      Haha, yeah, there is a Space Architecture program-they make models with propane tanks you buy at the Army Surplus store before you go camping.

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:
 

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

  • ichweiB

Other blogs affiliated with University of Houston:

Recent Entries


Please wait... loading
Please wait... loading