Friday, November 27, 2009

Architecture without Rules

Paul Barker from the Times Online wrote an article about Architecture without rules that has criticized the effects oc city planning on cities. He writes:

"Urban planning has led to shoddiness, squalor and ugliness in our cities. Let’s throw away the rulebook and allow people to build where they want..."

Shots fired.

You know the funny thing is, whenever we let architects do their own thing on a mass level in cities, they almost always forget about the human scale. Or they come up with an abstract theory for a new human scale or try to completely revolutionize the parameters human scale. Need I remind the writer that Le Corbusier's influence on the International modernist style of architecture and planning that led to some of the most bland and unimaginative buildings ever built that often lacked context with it's surrounding environment. Le Corbusier's vision of "the city and the park" also helped create isolated office and residential towers that enforced the separation of land uses and limited the connectivity of people and urban places.

In the U.S. (the writer is from England) we have let many cities and architects do what they want. And the cities of Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta have all perfected Le Corbusier's plan to a tee and all of these five cities lack a central downtown and a sense of place.

Now this is not to knock all architects who which to plan the urban landscape. There have been many architects who have done great jobs in creating buildings to human scale and creating great master planned communities.

But back to the article. Barker's main point is that the conservation of rural land outside of English cities has dramatically risen housing prices in cities. He argues from a conservative standpoint that people should be allowed to build anywhere in the green pastures in suburbia that they like. Again I would like to point to the American cities of Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston to show him how great that has worked out.

What's your opinion? How do you feel about architecture without planning and development without boundaries?

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