Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The discordant beat of the current drum.

My alarm that we are creating urban fabric on a global basis that by 2030 continues to increase – with few I think being interested in doing anything – even talking about it. Perhaps it’s only me that hears the discord of the beating drum of progress.

My recent quest has been to try and stand in the shoes of a Asian city administrator and ask myself what are the principles that would need that would help construct urban fabric that has radically reduced footprint while creating wonderful space and place for my communities. By what measure will I judge the rapacious engineering firms and developers all too eager to offer their latest solution.

Thus far my list looks as follows: (it can't be too long or no one will read it)

Building enveloped that are almost self sufficient - with leading edge and waste systems.
• City designs that make mass transit, bicycles and walking the logical choices.
• Symbiotic co-location of industries – the waste streams are inputs to the next.
• Centrally located integrated utilities.
• Ubiquitous broadband.
• High street designs with work/life /play close by and high densification.
• Forms which encourage urban food - including markets /farmers markets/large in city hydroponics/ bioskins on buildings and community supported agriculture.
• Sustainable and smart logistics systems.
• Clusters/ space and place that gives uniqueness and identity.
• An attitude that promotes cradle to cradle design and activity.

It also needs lots of soft design - such as the capacity to cope with change, design that can adapt and learn, and enough chaos that it softens the dead hand of planning and encourages both creativity and diversity.

"If a man (or woman) does not keep pace with his companions,
Perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer,
Let him (or her) step to the music they hear,
However measured or far away."

Henry David Thoreau 1849