Sunday, 20 March 2011

Seeing like a state

An opponent of TZM with a video on youtube (buffalofetus) has challenged people to reject the thesis of this book, which although it does not mention TZM/TVP specifically, does look at high level plans in history. Buffalofetus says you are not allowed to argue with him unless you have read the book, but he seems to assert the thesis of the book without supporting it from the book itself, and my attempts to debate have met with stereotyping, and accusations of wilful ignorance.

One of the chapters of the book that I have read focus on Le Corbusier, and his high level ideas. There is a particular focus on Brasilia. I think it is fair to sum up the criticism that the author presents as being that the city lacks the human scale, intimacy, character that the unplanned, or less planned older cities that have evolved over time exhibit or exude.

Yes, modernism can have a coldness about it, and "science" has that analytical, rather flat and de-humanised overtone to it, but:

  • What is the imperative? Saving the planet and the human race, or achieving certain aesthetic standards in the design of RBE cities? We can't have human scale cities without humans.
  • I don't disagree that Le Corbusir didn't get things exactly right. FDoes this mean that he couldn't have, or no-one else should try?
  • There's an element of nostalgia in the reactions of Brazilians to Brasilia. People are used to certain norms and find change difficult. I am not mocking them, and I like old, quirky, human scale things, but I also like technology. I've just read extracts from this book on line, and within a short space of time been able to blog on it.. This is different but it isn't wrong to be able to achieve that kind of speed.
I hope those who design cities in an RBE learn from mistakes Le Corbusier made. Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph open claim not to have all the answers, but this is not an argument for doing nothing, and I don't think either of them want dehumanised cities, subject to thenm actually being sustainable within available resources.

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