Saturday, April 5, 2008

#13: What the "new urbanism" can't quite get

New Urbanism., originally uploaded by Ingorrr.

The recalcitrant David Harvey puts it best: Towards economic, social and even to some extent environmental sustainability, the practicioners of the new urbanism have been mostly all talk...and, indeed, lazy thinkers fixated on form. It seems the CNU folks are dedicated to preserving the suburban trope of their work: creating white enclaves on greenfields. As Sam Newburg reports at their current convention in Austin, they are indeed pouting over the fact that their suburban developments won't qualify for LEED-ND.

I always thought the "transect" was a stultifying model for describing the complexities of sustainable urbanism, which beggar questions about economic and social networks and the kind of things cities actually depend on for their existance...but now I've come to realize that the "transect" is an apt description of the mental lobotomy going on in the brain of a New Urbanist with respect to regional and global thinking. The only transects we need in the local context are the mass transit kind. New urbanists should talk instead about networks...sustainable processes. I'm still waiting for them to begin to develop what David Harvey calls a "utopia of process".

My single challenge to a new urbanist: What can you do for Dharavi?

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