Submitted by Mathieu Helie on Mon, 10/05/2009 - 21:55, last updated Mon, 04/09/2012 - 15:16
Sometime last year this website attracted the attention of several members of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, an organization sponsored by the Prince of Wales Foundation in order to support and renew traditions of construction. While this organization does great work to preserve the techniques of traditional building cultures, they have yet to define what the traditional urbanism of their name really implies. The importance of such a definition I believe to be primordial.
Submitted by Mathieu Helie on Wed, 09/02/2009 - 16:14, last updated Mon, 04/09/2012 - 15:51
There is a scene early in the 2006 mockumentary Radiant City that provides the key explanation to the morphology of suburban sprawl. Our favorite writer James Howard Kunstler sits on a bench in a community bike trail that is enclosed in two rows of chain link fence in order to, I presume, secure it from the high-capacity arterial road that runs alongside it. The experience is vaguely what it must have been like to patrol the Berlin Wall, had it been encircled by an expressway.
Submitted by Mathieu Helie on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 22:29, last updated Sun, 11/06/2011 - 01:04
In Architecture: Choice or Fate, his manifesto for New Urbanism, classicist Leon Krier produced many inspirational images of urban complexity, going as far as a fractal comparison of modern and traditional buildings. The cover of the book, a fictional resort town for Tenerife, presents a fascinating case study of complex symmetry; no building is the same as another, but all share the same geometric properties. That would not be unusual had it not been an architectural manifesto.
Submitted by Mathieu Helie on Sun, 09/14/2008 - 21:22, last updated Sun, 04/08/2012 - 23:13
There are two methods for producing fractal geometry. The first method, the decomposition, is the most easily understood. In a decomposition we apply an algorithm that breaks up the geometry of some starting point into several parts. We then re-apply this algorithm to the smaller parts created, obtain many more, even smaller parts, and continue this reiteration until we have reached the complexity limit at the smallest scale of object we can possibly make. This is how an architectural design proceeds because it reflects the way that building proceeds.
Submitted by Mathieu Helie on Sun, 06/15/2008 - 22:14, last updated Sun, 04/08/2012 - 23:11
Modern urbanism has given us a landscape that many consider to be soulless. Everything looks the same. Nothing creates a sense of place. New Urbanism has attempted to reverse this by returning to traditional architecture and town planning forms. This was done in European new towns, under the advice of well-meaning men like the Krier brothers, in the late 1970's, and did not succeed.
Interesting observations, and in general I agree. However, I would add that another powerful part of this film is the dystopian idea that in a "dis-aggregated" world of suburban limbo, violent death is inevitable, and often emerges out of sheer boredom.
Thank you Mathieu.. I find myself lucky to come across your articles recently when i really needed knowledge about theory of emerging cities..
Its my master's project and I was going through few references when I came across this particularly..
I've been keeping your blog as a personal reference in the last two years and I'd like to congratulate and to thank you. It seems we have close interests... I was wondering if you know "The Self-Organizing Universe" by Eric Jantsch.
I appreciate the content on complexity, but I think many of the initial presumptions are unfounded, assumed, or contended. For example, when shall we assume that cities became "a normal, ordinary aspect of civilized living"?