the death and life of great cities
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:40 am
urban planning / housing / zoning / mcmansion mocking thread
fashion and friends 2.0
“Something happened in the culture of architecture and design, which went from a system that was unregulated but consistently producing things that are good to one that is heavily regulated but still turns out crappy buildings,” he told me.
Many architects counter that it is the rules themselves—setbacks, lot coverage, drainage, parking, building height, one-family-only, Tudor houses here, Craftsman houses there, paint-it-like-so—that have put us in this position. Terrible buildings, and such small portions!
In Order Without Design, his book about cities and markets, the urban planner Alain Bertaud writes that the decision to build tall or short buildings is not the choice of an architect, developer, or planner, but a natural result of the land values, “purely an economic decision depending on the price of land in relation to the price of construction.” Requiring shorter buildings, as many places do, is tantamount to requiring expensive homes. (Some say that’s the point.)
[C]onsider Seattle, where the housing researcher Dan Bertolet undertook an exhaustive analysis of design review, which applies to almost all multifamily development in the city. The city’s design review board did things like postpone the approval of a 400-unit, transit-oriented development with 168 subsidized homes because they didn’t like the color, the presence of a ground-floor day care, the shape of the façade, and the ground-floor residential units. A “passive house” project—six stories, 45 units, ultralow energy use—was required to attend a third meeting after the board asked for more bricks, though it eventually approved the building without bricks, 19 months after the builders first applied. The list goes on. Similar standards in the city’s historic districts, Bertolet calculated, had cost Seattle more than 1,000 new homes over a period of a few years—and, because time is money, driven up the cost of the ones that did get built.
(emphasis mine)Because zoning codes are both restrictive and out of date, they force many builders to seek exemptions, which often trigger design-review-style public meetings. Politicians like obsolete zoning codes, since this negotiation gives them the power to extract concessions from any project that deviates from a site’s strictly prescribed use.
cool stuff‘Our society does not consist only of human beings. Various animals come into our lives as ‘Pets’, and they are given spaces to live… If decent buildings standing in decent spaces are considered ‘human beings’, small buildings standing with all their might in odd spaces would seem to be like pets in urban spaces.’
Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but I can't recommend William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis enough. It's about the reciprocal development of Chicago and the American West in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Really good Marxist analysis of how increased demand for three resources (grain, timber, and meat) and the development of new technologies for producing/extracting/transporting/valuing those resources (railroads, refrigeration, commodity exchanges, grain elevators) led to explosive changes in American geography, economy, and ideology. It's not about colonialism per se (although the genocide of Native Americans figures heavily in the background), but it's probably the best book about resource extraction ever written.funyuns wrote: ↑Thu Apr 15, 2021 4:24 am does anyone have any resources on comparing urbanization with colonization? e.g. wealth gap and resource and labor flows between rural and urban areas. imo just as an observation it seems like cities extract resources and labor from rural areas in a manner not unlike that of rich countries extracting from poor countries (examples in US urban metro / rural divide, Chinese hukou system, etc)
probably true in some contexts and not others. where i live rural areas and suburbs (increasingly hard to distinguish) siphon enormous amounts of resources from the cities. i would guess that this is likely true in many conservative NA provinces/states where politicians need to placate their increasingly impoverished base. i often find that these urban/rural divide convos efface the urban working class (people who make min. wage: cashiers, service industry people, etc.). seems like the best analysis is always that the wealth generated by workers flows upwards (to the rich) rather than outwards (from the cities, or into the cities, etc.)
i wonder if urban vertical farms will shift this flow at all. obviously it could, but I question whether skyrocketing land values will result in this being the best (read: invisible hand) choice of land use. I could def see it continue even if it was totally possible to independently provide food for each city.funyuns wrote: ↑Fri Apr 16, 2021 1:39 pm Let me preface that I was originally thinking of food flow between urban (including suburban, generally, land that is not used for agriculture) and rural (land that is used for agriculture), and not necessarily wealth. The two are probably correlated to some degree, though.
In terms of sinks and sources, urban areas (again, non-agricultural land) are a sink on food supply — there needs to be some form of net transportation of food resource into a city to maintain the population. I can’t really think of any city that grows all the food it’s residents need from within the city (essentially, self-sufficiency). So the next option must be to import food? And this net flow of raw resource from agricultural land to urban land is, to me, reminiscent of a colony, in many ways (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gwak8I9SbU for some explanation)
These were just some things that arose from some interactions with BuildSoil (great forum/twitter/wiki for mostly North American community-based regenerative agriculture for restoring topsoil). I might be paraphrasing here, but it seems as though actually not much land is necessarily needed to (foodwise) sustain an individual over the course of a year.