Urban Planning

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Urban. from the Latin "urbānus", from urbs (city).
"characteristic of city life," 1619 (but rare before 1830s), from L. urbanus "of or pertaining to a city or city life," as a noun, "city dweller," from urbs (gen. urbis) "city," of unknown origin. The word gradually emerged in this sense as urbane became restricted to manners and styles of expression. Urban renewal, euphemistic for "slum clearance," is recorded from 1955.

I was reading Zerzan's Against Civilisation, where in one article, one of his contributors writes about the absurdity and hypocrisy behind the term "Wildlife Management", in having to say that wildlife was something that could be managed, controlled, manipulated to our will. "Urban planning" is a completely different matter though. The city was built to be planned and managed and controlled. The city is built from a plan, through the grand scheme of civilisation. Today, the city is unavoidable.

Flâneur & Dérive

Flâneur (or jetter): comes from the French verb flâner, which means "to stroll". A flâneur is thus a person who walks the city in order to experience it. While Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a "gentleman stroller of city streets", he saw the flâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in and portraying the city. A flâneur thus played a double role in city life and in theory, that is, while remaining a detached observer.

The observer-participant dialectic is evidenced in part by the dandy culture. Highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur's active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city.

The concept of the flâneur is important in academic discussions of the phenomenon of modernity. While Baudelaire's aesthetic and critical visions helped open-up the modern city as a space for investigation, theorists, such as Georg Simmel, began to codify the urban experience in more sociological and psychological terms. In his essay "The Metropolis and Mental Life", Simmel theorizes that the complexities of the modern city create new social bonds and new attitudes towards others. The modern city was transforming humans, giving them a new relationship to time and space, inculcating in them a 'blasé attitude', and altering fundamental notions of freedom and being:

Dérive: a French concept meaning an aimless walk, probably through city streets, that follows the whim of the moment.

French philosopher and Situationist Guy Debord used this idea to try and convince readers to revisit the way they looked at urban spaces. Rather than being prisoners to their daily route and routine, living in a complex city but treading the same path every day, he urged people to follow their emotions and to look at urban situations in a radical new way. This led to the notion that most of our cities were so thoroughly unpleasant because they were designed in a way that either ignored their emotional impact on people, or indeed tried to control people through their very design. The basic premise of the idea is for people to explore their environment ("psychogeography") without preconceptions, to understand their location, and therefore their existence.

Like the earlier flâneur, the Situationist dérive was a general reaction, manifested in the shadow of the Parisian landscape, as the casual stroller of flânerie moved towards the more directed urban pedestrian. Thomas F. McDonough recognized the similarities between the two movements, but also distinguishes the difference in how the two interpreted modernizing urban spaces:

The dérive took place literally below the threshold of visibility, in the sense of being beyond what is visible to the voyeur’s gaze. As Debord describes it, the dérive replaced the figure of the voyeur with that of the walker: “One or more persons committed to the dérive abandon, for an undefined period of time, the motives generally admitted for action and movement, their relations, their labor and leisure activities, abandoning themselves to the attractions of the terrain and the encounters proper to it.” In allowing themselves “to be drawn by the solicitations of the terrain,” persons on the dérive escaped the imaginary totalizations of the eye and instead chose a kind of blindness.

Distance Decay

Distance decay (the "friction of distance") is a geographical term which describes the effect of distance on cultural or spatial interactions. The distance decay effect states that the interaction between two locales declines as the distance between them increases.

Space syntax

According to wikipedia's entry on space syntax, "The term space syntax encompasses a set of theories and techniques for the analysis of spatial configurations. The general idea is that spaces can be broken down into components, analyzed as networks of choices, then represented as maps and graphs that describe the relative connectivity and integration of those spaces. It rests on three basic conceptions of space:

  • an isovist, or viewshed or visibility polygon, the field of view from any particular point
  • axial space, a straight sight-line and possible path, and
  • convex space, an occupiable void where, if imagined as a wireframe diagram, no line between two of its points goes outside its perimeter, in other words, all points within the polygon are visible to all other points within the polygon.

Isovist: volume of space visible from a given point in space, together with a specification of the location of that point.

  • every point in physical space has its own unique isovist.
  • isovists are naturally 3D, but they may also be studied in 2D (horizontal section or other vertical sections thru the 3D isovist.

Urban Decay

Depopulation, economic restructuring, property abandonment, high unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and desolate and unfriendly urban landscapes.

  • Suicide cluster in East Glasgow: Suicide rose dramatically among young adults in Scotland between 1980-1982 and 1999-2001, especially among those living in deprived areas - areas which are difficult to travel to and from, areas near off-licences, areas with drug activity. One interpretation of this large, persistent, and statistically significant cluster of suicides among young adults in east Glasgow is that suicide is geographically contagious, but the present results suggest that it is explained by the concentration of deprivation in this area.

Religiousness and Income Disparity

On one episode of "Thinking Allowed", Laurie Taylor suggests that religion increases in areas with greater income disparity/inequality: eg Finland and Ireland are very similar in size and status however Finland is generally quite unreligious while Ireland is quite roman catholic/christian and the only different is that income distribution is more uneven in ireland and where greater inequality exists, greater religiousness usually follows (as coping mechanism?)

Space requires Movement

Tuan Yi Fu is a retired geographer/academic born in china, educated in london, then taught at universities in the States for about 60 odd years.

In Space and Place : The Perspective of Experience, Tuan contends that a space requires a movement from a place to another place. Similarly, a place requires a space to be a place. Hence, the two notions are co-dependent.

planning permissions (uk)

On what grounds can an objection to a planning application be made?

When making a decision on a planning application the LPA must take into account a number of factors including material considerations. Material considerations include matters such as: Overshadowing. Overlooking or loss of privacy. Adequate parking and servicing. Overbearing nature of proposal. Loss of trees. Loss of ecological habitats. Design and appearance. Layout and density of buildings. Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas. Access or highways safety. Traffic generation. Noise and disturbance from the proposed development. Disturbance from smells. Public visual amenity, but not loss of private individual’s view. Flood risk. Risk of creating a precedent An alternative potential future use is capable of being a material consideration (Carroll v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others [2016] EWHC 2462 (Admin);). Factors which are not normally material considerations (and cannot usually be taken into account by the LPA) include: Loss of value to individual property. Loss of view. Boundary disputes including encroachment of foundations and gutters. Private covenants or agreements. The applicant’s personal conduct or history. The applicant’s motives. Potential profit for the applicant or from the application. Private rights to light. Private rights of way. Damage to property. Disruption during any construction phase. Loss of trade or competitors Age, health, status, background, work patterns of the objector. Time taken to do the work. Capacity of private drains. Building or structural techniques. Alcohol or gaming licences.