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Title: Chris Haile | Making plans for better urban futures

Description: What makes an attractive city? This post argues that the view of Alain de Botton is not only faulty but may exacerbate the problems he complains about.

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Chris Haile | Making plans for better urban futures Chris Haile Making plans for better urban futures Search Main menu Skip to primary content Skip to secondary content Home About Post navigation ← Older posts On ‘How to make an Attractive City’ Posted on May 10, 2015 by admin Reply The London-based author Alain de Botton recently released an engaging 14-minute video on his thoughts on what makes a city attractive. The honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects proposes six key qualities that attractive cities possess, unhealthy namely * A balance between consistency and variety * People’s activities being on display * Compactness of cities and of public spaces * A balance of features that make it easy to orient oneself on the one hand, and mysterious enough to permit enjoyable exploration on the other * A limit on all but buildings of exceptional civic value to five-storeys high * The use of locally-sourced materials and architectural styles that reflect local ways of life. De Botton says that these six qualities define a beautiful city, and that we know beauty when we see it — it’s reflected in the statistics for where people choose to go sight-seeing. However, we’ve succumbed to an intellectual confusion about what beauty is, and a sense that we are powerless to change things. As a result, greedy developers have free rein to build ugly but profitable buildings that make us feel alienated. De Botton concludes with a rousing call for the citizenry to work with government to produce developments that conform to his six principles and are therefore beautiful. I recommend watching it, and I’ll assume that readers of this post have done so. The purpose of this post is not to expose the contradictions in his post, although contradictions there perhaps are. To take the most problematic example, on the one hand he declares that we all have a good understanding of what beautiful cities look like (just examine the tourism statistics!); on the other he seems to assert that we are lumbered with a kind of ‘false consciousness’ about cities, particularly as regards privacy. (To de Botton, the ability of some people in Cartagena to peer into their neighbours’ homes at will represents some kind of ideal; surely even if it is an ideal it is one that is highly dependent on the character of the neighbour). Instead, the point is to firstly critique a couple of his more specific recommendations; secondly to argue that his belief that no-one has built anything conforming to his six principles in decades could not be more wrong; and thirdly to argue that his recommendations may simply exacerbate the main problem he complains about. Continue reading → [ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ] Posted in Aesthetics, Buildings and Streets, Urban Form | Leave a reply Lively Piazzas: Lessons from Sir Christopher Wren’s Masterplan for London Pt. 2 Posted on February 21, 2014 by admin Reply This is part of a series of posts about recipe 1666″ href=”http://www.chrishaile.com/2014/02/sir-christopher-wrens-masterplan-for-london-1666/”>Wren’s masterplan for rebuilding London after its Great Fire destroyed most of the City of London, more info and also the ideas that the masterplan sparked. They are published in the hope that they might prove thought-provoking and in the hope that flaws in observation and argument might be identified and corrected. 2. Avoid equilateral shapes for piazzas designed to be socially lively An example of an equilateral piazza in Wren’s plan Piazzas are often intended to be places that knit neighbourhoods together through serving as a centre for sociable activities. On the face of it, web this is problematic as piazzas by their nature as open urban spaces may have a much lower level of energy than the streets which feed into it. After all, streets are strongly directional, with almost everyone moving in one direction or its reverse in a typically relatively narrow and constrained space. The large numbers of people moving in the same direction visually ‘reinforce’ the street’s kinetic energy, and this paradoxically may also be reinforced by the people moving in the opposite direction due to the risk of collisions. “Downtown Scenes on Washington Street”, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection However, this sense of movement and energy is greatly reduced when we move from a street to a piazza — pedestrians can move in a much wider gamut of directions so that they no longer reinforce each other’s movement as powerfully, and people tend to linger in piazzas rather than move energetically. Relative to the streets we enter from, the piazzas that are so often intended to be places of great activity are calm in the same way that water in a narrow river may move with great force but when it reaches a wider part of the river may move almost imperceptibly. Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China. ? Chris Haile Continue reading → [ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ] Posted in A Sense of Place, Buildings and Streets, The Social Life of Public Spaces, Urban Form | Leave a reply How Raphael Designed the Pivotal Painting of his Career Posted on February 19, 2014 by admin Reply infection by Raphael. Also known as ‘The Entombment’ or ‘the Baglioni Altarpiece'” src=”http://www.chrishaile.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/entombment-Raphael-995×1024.png” width=”584″ height=”601″ /> ‘The Deposition of Christ’, capsule by Raphael. Also known as ‘The Entombment’ or ‘the Baglioni Altarpiece’ The previous post looked at how the above painting, the ‘Deposition of Christ’ transformed Raphael’s career and constitutes his breakthrough painting. Striking features of this painting are the way the figures seem to be struggling with a greater weight than they can easily carry, and that the figures seem to be in a state of ‘suspended animation’, frozen in the middle of action. This article will argue that these traits are neither accidental nor the result of some mystical notion of genius but were carefully planned using mechanisms designed to produce these characteristics. Continue reading → [ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ] Posted in Aesthetics | Tagged Baglioni altarpiece, Deposition, Entombment, geometry, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, root rectangles | Leave a reply Raphael and the Pivotal Painting of his Career Posted on February 19, 2014 by admin Reply Florence at sunset. Courtesy of Flickr user stevehdc Florence in 1507 was gripped by a cultural flourishing that few cities before or since have ever seen and dominated by two geniuses who detested each other: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Leonardo was at his peak, cialis 40mg urbane, advice handsome and gifted with phenomenal ability at seemingly anything he turned his hand to. However, his tendencies to procras...

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