Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The quote of the week. M.Christine Boyer. 1990

Christine Boyer writes a chapter in the book Philosophical Streets, by Dennis Crow.
"...fragmented elements of the city whole are planned or redeveloped as autonomous elements, with little relationship to the whole and with direct concern only for adjacent elements. Fragments of the city are regulated, for example, by special district or contextual zoning, or historic preservation controls, but say nothing about the city as a whole.(...) To play on the analogy futher, this recursive mentality is serial. Mass production is serial so that it is not surprising to find the mass production of city spaces in late capitalism taking on a serial appearance, producing already known patterns or molds of places almost identical from city to city."

Boyer, M Christine, 'The Return of Aesthetics to City Planning', in Philosophical Streets, New Approaches to Urbanism, edited by Dennis Crow, Urbs et Orbi: The Urban Project, volume 1, Maisonneuve Press, 1990, p96

In the context of a book that appears too far from practice to be of much value outside academia, due to a heavily philosophical language, Boyer speaks in a language that can be understood by a broader audience.
The repetition of urban patterns became ubiquitous since the 1960s, but it did especially in urban projects of the 1980s and 1990s. Waterfronts, boulevards, squares, plazas, urban regeneration in general, follows patterns that create urban spaces that appear and feel disconnected from the place and culture they belong to. This applies to streets to a certain extent, but streets are better at keeping a memory of place, for it is hard to erase their identity unless they are partially or completely demolished.

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