Saturday, December 18, 2010

Welcome to reCities

Cities the world over are in a state of crises, unable to cope with a growing urban population and lacking the care or understanding to make cities enjoyable places to live. This blog will analyse this predicament, among other entries. 

To me this blog is a continuation of my personal education. Often at university your intellectual pursuits are dictated, projects enforced, with very little time for anything outside of school. Apart from my end of year dissertation, I wasn't able to pursue my own interests on a regular basis. Architecture is my true passion, or more specifically the collection of great architecture in a thoughtful manner that makes beautiful streets and enjoyable cities. I emphasize thoughtful because too often nowadays urbanism is correlated with condo towers stacked together willy nilly with no attention paid to the street level. It's what urban designer Jan Gehl calls bird's eye planning, one of the many drawbacks of a Modernist approach which takes no consideration of the human scale. 

Steet scene in Seattle's Seattle Heights neighborhood. Not a successful example of urban design. flickr : citywalker

Stanley Gardens
Traditional street in Notting Hill, London. Need I say more? flickr : Turboff

To simplify, cities are like any product, quality being sorely lacking in the vast majority. Cities are a cauldron of inequality. Poor, rundown areas are often found abutting wealthy enclaves, something often ignored but it sticks out like a sore thumb to visitors. One can't help seeing these areas. It annoys me to no end to find certain bits of cities spotlessly clean while a street over may be falling apart. What's most surprising is that these areas are often in between a major transportation point such as a train station or airport and the city centre. This lack of care is shocking yet unsurprising, given the long-standing lack for quality city planning. 

Throughout my trips in cities around Europe and the United States, I find it difficult to disconnect myself from thinking architecturally. My mind is constantly studying my surroundings, determining the quality of the space and why it is or isn't enjoyable. Photography is an important tool in these studies, lending easy comparison between various street scenes. Much of this blog will feature these kind of comparisons. 

What is the idle living environment? That is the question I will aim to uncover. I hope you enjoy this blog.