Ignore Ignorance

This world is a funny place…

Posts Tagged ‘urban’

Castle in the Sky

Posted by Brandon McKoy on June 26, 2008

A few nights ago I was watching Jurassic Park, and was struck by the many similarities between the lessons in the movie, and the lessons we learn from urban and suburban planning. In Jurassic Park, scientists built a beautiful park with all of the precautions and amenities they could think of. One of the repeating lines in the movie is, “spared no expense.” Yet, in the end, even with all of their fanciful designs and plans, nature found a way to do what it wanted and the dinosaurs on the island took over. Well, the same goes for residential planning; no matter how nice you make the buildings or the parks, there will still be crime, drugs, and all of the social problems that come with society. Physical environment is no where near as important as mental environment. As long as people fear one another and flee rather than invest in their community, the same problems will continue to plague society. Pretty looking buildings, as amazing as they are, don’t do shit to help ease these problems.

Speaking of pretty buildings, there was a recent announcement that developers are planning to build a skyscraper in Dubai, where each floor can spin (yep, spin) independently to change the view. The BBC has a nice report here on the event. This incredible building will have 80 floors (all but the ground floor can spin), with a computer controlling each floor’s rotation, contorting the building into very interesting shapes and designs. Owners of penthouse suites will have the ability to control their floor’s rotation, so that they can change the view if (and when) they tire of it. In a nutshell, this building is off the hook; too bad it doesn’t serve a real purpose. Yes, the building is energy self-sufficient from wind turbines which power the rotation of the floors. But this building isn’t being used for some public purpose; it’s just more incredibly expensive housing ($3.7 million – $36 million for an apartment), and is taking a large amount of money to construct (~ $700 millon) considering it’s only 79 apartments. Is it cool? Yes. Is it necessary? Hell no.

The development of Dubai is very interesting. Most metropoleis have been built over hundreds of years, slowly growing in architecture and population. Dubai however, has gone from basically a desert town to a thriving metropolis in a mere 14 years. Its population has tripled in 20 years from 370,800 in 1985 to 1,204,000 in 2005. I say all of this to illustrate that it is no surprise that such a building would be constructed in Dubai. However, my concern is that similar extravagant projects (though they may not have spinning floors) are being planned in many cities around the world, including American cities.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use all of this money to create buildings and structures that can serve a real purpose, rather than throw it all away on beauty and aesthetics? The Chrysler building in New York, though not particularly unique, is a staple of the city’s landscape and houses many businesses and ventures which breath life into the city. Instead of trying to make everything look beautiful, cities need structures of substance. You may not agree with me here, but I’d rather that cities use such money on parks, corner stores, and maintenance, instead of building these extravagant monstrosities. A city can look as beautiful as it wants, but if there is no substance behind it, it’s not going to operate in an effective way.

So, in a way, Jurassic Park taught me everything I need to know about Urban Development. It shows that environment doesn’t breed success, and ultimately nature will find a way. Just like Urban development, the public has to have the right mindset to go with the right environment, otherwise they will resort back to their natural behaviors which continue to result in the things that plague our society (fear, drugs, crime, etc.). It is why people flee to the suburbs, and why Donald Trump sits atop his personally named tower – they would rather get away from the problems than to stay and fix them. Hiding behind gated communities and inside 80 story skyscrapers will not advance this society one lick. If people are provided with places to foster community and relationships (parks, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, etc.) instead of places to escape and segregate themselves, we will all be better off. Everybody seems to want their own little castle in the sky; it is only on the ground, amongst the people where true community and happiness lie.

Listening to: No Doubt – The Climb

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Note: For everyone who continues to visit this blog I greatly appreciate it. I’m going to make Thursday updates a regularity so that there’s some consistency here. Also, please comment so I know what your thoughts are; whether you agree or disagree. I’m going to start posting polls and the like so stay tuned. Thanks again – B

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