City Indistinguishable

Mostly paranoid and city stalking. A journey into the psyche of cities.

"New Old Town"

99% Invisible is a very well produced radio show on design and life of built environment. Most of the podcasts are about cities, people and how things in the urban life come together. “New Old Town” maps reconstruction of the old part of Warsaw by communist who took over the city after WWII. The city was burned down to the ground by Germans while they were watching from the other side of river. 

An amazing story of political manipulation through city building. 

Toronto is a city coming. Here’s how the argument goes for Toronto, at least for the past 10 years that I’ve come to know the city. This parallel examines the new and the old way that the city is coming about. 

From “Mutations”, Harvard Project on The City

From “Mutations”, Harvard Project on The City

Toronto, downtown, early morning

Toronto, downtown, early morning

If you can’t walk it, it’s not a city.

Cities Rock!

This is an easy to listen conversation Stephen Dubner , co-author of Freakonomics, had with an Economics professor at Harvard University about cities. Professor Ed Glazer discusses why cities are the greatest human invention and briefly talks about how pro-suburban policies of America is undermining the cities and forcing people to outskirts. 

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/why-cities-rock/id354668519?i=101230969

What is striking about cities in U.S and Canada is their lack of dignity. Besides a few exceptions such as New York, Vancouver, Chicago or Montreal, cities are generally apologetic about their existence. The situation was pronounced for me in recent mayoral election in Toronto. The pre-election debates all involved a strong literature of city vs. suburbs, mostly concerned with allocation of funding and investments. The difference at the top caused a huge divide at the bottom and voters decided based only on how strongly they felt they are suburbanite or city dweller.
http://torontoist.com/2010/10/which_wards_voted_for_who_for_mayor/
The city lost to suburbs.
In reality suburbs are heavily dependent on cities due to their consumerist nature. So the more efficient and successful the cities are the better quality of life suburbs can offer. Cities are centers of economic and political activities; jobs, health services, culture, education and commerce are all also concentrated in the city. Cities inspire and prosper the economy and are facilitators of social innovations and growth. I find it difficult and unreasonable to compromise the growth and success of cities for comfort of suburbs. When suburban life is a choice (partially a forced choice due to pro-suburb policies), the prosperity and success of cities is a must for the well being of a country as a whole. Considering all above it puts me in a great unease when in the context of reinforcing city living I have to also talk about suburbs.
When I started my thesis about city I had no interest in dedicating any part of it to the issue of suburbs, for two reasons: first because the thesis is about densification and encouraging complex urban environments, two: because I only wanted to deal with matters that I have had first hand exposures to and I have never grown up in a suburb (although I lived in one for a short period of time). However, as I’m doing my research, the case of city vs. suburb is ubiquitous in the discussions of planning and urban design; a dichotomy that is continuously fuelling the debates over the politics and economy of North American cities and in my opinion is undermining the importance of cities in this part of the world.  
Many believe that this is a false divide and we have to concentrate on the untapped benefits of city living and encourage more urban habitat as the influx of people into cities is at a rise, but also find solutions for suburbs to become self-sufficient communities that have a justification and meaning beyond the patch of grass in the front–lawn and the backyard.
Until then suburbs are in debt to cities and cities have to always have the priority for investment and growth, with zero apology.

What is striking about cities in U.S and Canada is their lack of dignity. Besides a few exceptions such as New York, Vancouver, Chicago or Montreal, cities are generally apologetic about their existence. The situation was pronounced for me in recent mayoral election in Toronto. The pre-election debates all involved a strong literature of city vs. suburbs, mostly concerned with allocation of funding and investments. The difference at the top caused a huge divide at the bottom and voters decided based only on how strongly they felt they are suburbanite or city dweller.

http://torontoist.com/2010/10/which_wards_voted_for_who_for_mayor/

The city lost to suburbs.

In reality suburbs are heavily dependent on cities due to their consumerist nature. So the more efficient and successful the cities are the better quality of life suburbs can offer. Cities are centers of economic and political activities; jobs, health services, culture, education and commerce are all also concentrated in the city. Cities inspire and prosper the economy and are facilitators of social innovations and growth. I find it difficult and unreasonable to compromise the growth and success of cities for comfort of suburbs. When suburban life is a choice (partially a forced choice due to pro-suburb policies), the prosperity and success of cities is a must for the well being of a country as a whole. Considering all above it puts me in a great unease when in the context of reinforcing city living I have to also talk about suburbs.

When I started my thesis about city I had no interest in dedicating any part of it to the issue of suburbs, for two reasons: first because the thesis is about densification and encouraging complex urban environments, two: because I only wanted to deal with matters that I have had first hand exposures to and I have never grown up in a suburb (although I lived in one for a short period of time). However, as I’m doing my research, the case of city vs. suburb is ubiquitous in the discussions of planning and urban design; a dichotomy that is continuously fuelling the debates over the politics and economy of North American cities and in my opinion is undermining the importance of cities in this part of the world.

Many believe that this is a false divide and we have to concentrate on the untapped benefits of city living and encourage more urban habitat as the influx of people into cities is at a rise, but also find solutions for suburbs to become self-sufficient communities that have a justification and meaning beyond the patch of grass in the front–lawn and the backyard.

Until then suburbs are in debt to cities and cities have to always have the priority for investment and growth, with zero apology.

This was an attempt to frame two radically different spatial experiences from two generic streets, one in Cambridge, Canada (for the lack of sufficient mapping info it is wrongly located in Toronto, but you can imagine exact same experience in Toronto for that matter) and the other one located in Venice, Italy. 

When I first showed this in a presentation, one of the critics, a professor at UW, roared in protest “This is not fair!” ….that’s exactly my point. 

Cities today are largely driven by forces of market and the grim side of reality is that their shapes are also very much determined by the networks of global production and politics of economy. Those who join the train of development at this point of history have little or no chance to escape from the littering urbanization of Capitalism of neo-corporates or the market of empowered consumers. It is hard to imagine any new city coming to being that puts pedestrians, the people, at the top of its priority in design. 

tumblrbot asked: WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST HUMAN MEMORY?

a shaft of light into the room