Planning for Spontaneity

According to this opinion piece, planners must ease up on "big bang" planning--an approach centered around sweeping changes with fixed ideas of what the outcome must look like.
April 3, 2009, 5am PDT | Judy Chang
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"But I wonder, why don't we look at our own cities with the same open eyes as we look at places like Mumbai or Medellín; searching not for failure and horror, but for potential? Is the unplanned city only valid if it's dense and dirty? Why don't we see our cities as legitimate landscapes from which we can build our future?

"The closest we seem to get to that possibility is in the form of ideas that might be called Big Bang Lite – where the ideal is reformation rather than complete reconstruction. In the case of suburbia the need for reform is justified by the need for sustainability. Fair enough. Yet the impression is that sustainability is being used as an excuse to invoke the ideals of Big Bang urbanism - the final picture is pre-determined, comprehensive, inflexible. When I see projects of this type, whether they are set out by New Urbanists hoping to bring urban densities to the suburbs, or whether they are offered up by those brave few who concede suburbia may be a creation of people who actually LIKE where they live, I cannot help but feel we are missing two important points.

First of all, that sustainability does not require density."

"The second point requires a little populist faith, but starts with the assumption that our cities are reflections of the people who live in them."

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Published on Sunday, March 29, 2009 in Archinect
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