The Dynamic Potential of Urbanism Without Effort

Chuck Wolfe summarizes a major tenet of his new book and suggests we risk ignoring the back story of urban forms and functions by failing to truly understand the traditional relationships between people and place.

May 5, 2013, 1:00 PM PDT

By Charles R. Wolfe @crwolfelaw


Summarizing his new book Urbanism Without Effort, Wolfe emphasizes the importance of first isolating spontaneous and latent examples of successful urban land use, before applying any prescription of typologies, desired ends, or governmental initiative. He suggests "urbanism without effort" as the the basis for a clean, multidisciplinary slate for reinvigorating the way we think about urban development today.

Simply stated "urbanism without effort" is what happens naturally when people congregate in cities.

Rather than assume that the popular and touted is readily adaptable, or readily subject to metrics or labels, Wolfe argues that we should return to first principles and isolate the fundamental, vernacular relationships between city inhabitants and what surrounds them:

We need to look, analyze, and discern, until we remember what a basic sort of city life looks like. While we consider these inherent factors that shape spaces and their use, we also must remember that there is a certain, spontaneous magic attributable to good urban places that can awaken them, but will only occur when they are locally relevant and embraced.

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