"When did we decide that beautiful towns and cities were a thing of the past? Or do we really believe that they can be built without planning them, by allowing the market to deliver them?"
Source: David Chipperfield for the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/21/beautiful-cities-thing-past
In this very interesting comment from David Chipperfield in the Guardian, the architect makes a good point regarding contemporary architecture and planning. I'm left feeling provoked and reminded of the demoted power the architect has over the planning of current and future cities and towns. If we only talk about the issue of housing demand in numbers and logistics, there's no wonder we end up with towns and cities no one really wants to live in. They lack drive, passion and determination in terms of making the place comfortable, safe and beautiful. If you haven't thought about this before, think about it now. How does the built environment effect you? Think about that when you step into a building, town or city, and you will notice a vast difference in emotions as you move from place to place. I have done this, and I'm left thinking: When did we decide beauty isn't important in todays world, or the future world for that matter? Perhaps I am reading this article the wrong way, but to be frank, I don't care. It stirs up something I have been wondering about since the beginning of my architectural degree: When did we decide beautiful cities/buildings were a thing of the past? It seems to me that the demanding modern society has overpowered us to the point where beauty is no longer on the agenda.
It might seem a little vain to talk about beauty in a world where far to many people live in inhuman conditions, I certainly feel like that sometimes, but it is important. It's not just important to show the world that we do care about how we 'dress' it today, it's also important that we keep in mind how we leave this world. If we see this in a longer time perspective, is it OK to build low quality, 'low atmosphere', 'low beautiful' towns and cities? What kind of example are we setting for our future citizens? Are we saying that we are only building with a 20-year perspective in mind? If nothing else, it's not very environmentally friendly!
For now, planning and building with a higher quality will show the people living there that we are in fact providing good homes that are filled to the parapet with passionate design solutions, that we do care how they live. For the future, we would be setting an example of the standard we think the people of this world deserves to live, and that might just filter down to every city in the world. Maybe this is naive, or maybe that's the mindset we need to be able to make it any where near that ideal. As Chipperfield talkes about in his article, shaping a meaningful built environment should be important for the soul and spirit of the nation (read: world).
I leave you with my favourite paragraph of Mr. Chipperfields article:
"The creation of large amounts of housing, similar in number to those required after the war, forces us to confront this problem seriously, not as an issue only of numbers and volume, but as a representation of social priorities and civic pride. Providing fast trains and new airports might be essential, but taking care of our built world, providing good homes and shaping the meaningful physical environment that nurtures communities must be just as important for the soul and spirit of the nation."