Ted.com gem from 2004 by James Howard Kunstler on soul-destroying architecture and city design

Saturday, July 03, 2010

While browsing through the translations on Ted.com I came across a great hidden gem from 2004, on soul-destroying architecture and city planning one often finds in North America, and it's especially fantastic because the delivery is so...emphatic. And has NSFW (not safe for work) language as well. There's nothing like seeing someone who cares this much about his field giving such a powerful talk about it.

I suppose the one slight disagreement I have about it is that people wouldn't feel attachment to cities with design this bad, as I have a strange attachment to suburbia in Calgary where I grew up as well even though I wouldn't ever like to live there again. Back in junior high when none of us had cars it was normal to walk around the streets for hours at a time (30 minutes would usually get you to a single convenience store) and there's something about -30 weather with nothing around you but house after house and the odd deserted schoolyard that brings back a weird sort of nostalgia, so I suppose anything can be an acquired taste. On the other hand, one thing about Calgary is the excess abundance of nature within the city which can make it pretty easy to ignore any bad city design in the suburbs. The school in the video with the concrete yard and wire fence looks pretty horrid; those in Calgary for comparison are not beautifully designed, but at least are complete with massive fields in which to wander around. Here's one:

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There's absolutely nothing here, nowhere to go at night for a group of people without a car. And yet it still feels a bit nostalgic.

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