urban sprawl and environmental building plans

Discussion in 'Community' started by jelloshotsrule, Jun 20, 2002.

  1. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Location:
    serendipity
    #1
    well, rather than get the us vs uk thread too far off track, i thought i'd start up this.

    apparently big is a designer and i wanted to learn more about what he sees as the best ways to build towns environmentally and socially, so now here's the place for it


    having visited europe (germany, netherlands) several times, i can totally appreciate the value of living in a town where you can ride your bike everywhere.... i'm not sure what exactly has created this car driven society here in the us, but unfortunately, i think at this point, it'd take a MASSIVE revamping to get it to where cars aren't always necessary....
     
  2. macktheknife macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #2
    Americans have learned to live with sprawl

    The United States has a peculiar way of urban planning that is contrary to practices around the world--a conscious and illogical decision to segregate neighborhoods with development codes into retail, commerical, residential, etc. land and buildings. In Europe and Asia, mixed-use space with retail and residential units are built side-by-side, creating a neighborhood atmosphere instead of atomized cul-de-sacs where no one can go anywhere without a car.

    Anyhow, for more information on this subject, check out "Suburban Nation."
     
  3. D0ct0rteeth macrumors 65816

    D0ct0rteeth

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Location:
    Franklin, TN
    #3
    I have a loft in Boston and I love living downtown... I'm not a big fan of the suburbs... never was... I grew up in the typical suburban area and hated it.

    My folks still live in the middle of nowhere and they love it...go fig'... but I like the fact that I don't need to get in the car to go get a beer.. I can walk.

    Boston housing costs are threw the roof... a typically 75,000 house in watertown will cost you 200,000 with all the competition right now. It is VERY common for people to live in New Hampshire and commute 45 miles to work everyday.

    My car isn't necessary.. but I love grabbing the stripper.. hopping in the caddy... and heading up to the white mountains for the weekend.

    To each their own.

    good times.

    C-
     
  4. mr.w macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2002
    Location:
    Colorado
    #4
    Urban sprawl is a huge problem in all parts of the world. It pretty much all revolves around the distribution of wealth. You have working class people working and commuting to the more expensive and developed locations. Because of that emmitions are higher and traffic is horrible. The DC metro area is a perfect example of this. Sometimes a worked spends 3+ hours commuting to and from their home to their job :( To solve this we either need to completely re-design our cities fusing residential areas with commercial and industrial centers via adequate mass transportation, or just make it so workers live closer to their job sites. both of these would cut down on pollution and traffic.

    Also, one big problem is the American psyche. Most americans would rather drive their gas guzzling SUV to work rather then ride their bikes. their reasoning ---> saves time, less work, more class.
     
  5. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    Feb 5, 2002
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    All up in your bidness
    #5
    It's funny, because if we had smartly-designed cities, driving would consume MORE time than riding a bike.

    As far as class goes, I live in the midwestern US where the bicycle is simply NOT seen as a legitimate primary mode of transportation. Around here, when you tell someone you don't have a car, they'll ask, "Can't afford one, eh?" When I tell them, "No, it's just that I never bothered getting my license, and I don't have a car because I don't need or want one," they look at me like I'm a nutjob from another planet, and make an effort to distance themselves from me as much as possible. When people say, "That's a nice bike - how much did you pay for it?" and I tell them $400, they're shocked - "$400 for a BICYCLE! ABSURD!" By this point, in their eyes I might as well be a cultist or a Scientologist, so I don't even bother explaining how $400 for a bicycle is a ****load less expensive than $$$ for a car, astronomical $$$ in insurance for a college-age male, car maintenance, parking, and fuel.

    I think it's very sad. If the residential and commercial districts of our cities were integrated, if our small- and large-scale mass transit didn't totally suck, if we weren't forced to commute 30+ minutes to our jobs at megacorporations because we are unable to pay the extreme amount of money it would cost to live closer to work, we would be able to:

    - Save substantial time not stuck in traffic jams and not commuting miles and miles to wherever on a regular basis
    - Be healthier, as we would all walk and ride our bikes more, saving us tons of money and grief
    - Cause much less damage to the environment
    - Enjoy a greater sense of community
    - Save money - Even supporting public transportation while paying slightly more money for less efficient means of goods distribution would be far cheaper than buying an SUV.

    That would all be very un-U.S.-like though, wouldn't it... granted, I do think changing our cities and our lifestyles would be next to impossible.

    Alex
     
  6. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    serendipity
    #6
    my girlfriend just got a job in nyc and for the time being is living in nj with her parents whilst finding a place in nyc or just across from it in jersey.... the thought of spending 4 hours a day commuting... well it's gross.

    for once i agree with alex. even his negativity. ha
     
  7. big macrumors 65816

    big

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    #7
    oh lord...I could go on for hours.

    you guys all seem to be right on the money. now the problem is how to educate the rest of the world (I'll vie for just here if we can make it)

    Suburban Nation was a good call.

    cnu.org has a great flash presentation

    moreover, we are not allowed in most areas to build walkable communities, where (for what I judge)one should be able to walk to their corner store, buy an ice cream cone & get back before it melts.

    here in H'ville, we are working with the mayor (& others) to allow us to build multi-purpose buildings in one town going up just on the outskirts.

    another thing (the most important) unlike some of the highly successful TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development) communities like Seaside Florida, any others that are to be built should accomodate all income levels throughout the town.

    as the town grows, we need to provide public transportation. existing towns should look to Urban Infill, like Chattanooga's East Gate Mall project.

    secondly, we need to get rid of big box stores (like what Foley has done) put a size limit on stores & one town is allowing big box stores, though a building bond is payed on it, so when it goes out of business, or just ups and moves, the city has the money to tear it down.

    and gas stations.....

    well,
    I've got a fix for that too, give me tomorrow for that info, its really koo
     
  8. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #8
    The problems in creating livable cities are economic, social, technical, and political... what do you (any of you) think of the feasibility of implementing such cities?

    Do you think the public could overcome its romance with automobiles, and come to support the implementation of livable cities, to a sufficient degree? Do you think it would want to?

    Likewise, do you think the public could come to accept greatly increased taxes/fees to support public transit and urban redevelopment?

    Would the public see advocates of the livable city as tree-hugging environmentalist hippies? Could the word be disseminated clearly and coherently without the public tuning out and dismissing it as utopian garbage?

    Do you think we could create livable cities by revamping our current cities? Or would it be necessary to start fresh? Over what time period would the transformation take place, how much would it cost, and how thorough would it be?

    How would the implementation of livable cities affect the economy...

    And how would it affect business? Would we witness a return of the mom & pop hardware store, or would we instead witness mini- Home Depots in every neighborhood? Would it be possible to fight the apparent natural tendency of businesses to expand and consolidate? Do you think the public would want to fight it?

    (On a side note, I'm waiting for the hardcore conservatives & libertarians to spot this thread and turn it into a massive flamewar...)

    Alex
     
  9. macktheknife macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
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    #9
    Dude, walkable cities DO exist . . . outside the U.S.

    East Asia--namely cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo--has wonderful public transportation systems that can get you from point A to point B cheaply and efficiently. Europe too.

    It's a pity that Americans have gotten themselves used to the idea of driving everywhere. But then again, who can blame them? We currently build cities that are not built on to the scale of man. We build wide streets that discourage walking, we build faceless suburban neighborhoods, and we build tons of highways without regards to how it affects traffic. We also tend to forget that kids who are too young to drive are effectively trapped at home watching TV all day or are getting into trouble when there are no such things as a public square or park for them to assemble. All in all, Americans are building themselves neighborhoods that are destroying their social fabric and the sad thing is, they don't even realize it!

    How can we solve this problem? Well, the first step is to recognize we do have a problem.
     
  10. McFreggle macrumors 6502

    McFreggle

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2001
    Location:
    Dendermonde/Leuven, Belgium
    #10
    Hey... I LOVE a town like Leuven, where all students ride bikes... I get up every morning around nine, I jump on my bike, and ten minutes later I'm at work!

    That's soooooooo nice!

    k.
     
  11. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2002
    Location:
    Chicago
    #11
    Chicago's weirdness.

    Chicago is a city that is an odd combination of sprawl and beautifully designed neighborhoods.

    The city itself is great for walking/not owning a car. The public transportation is great. Most neighborhoods have retail and grocery stores along side residential buildings (or at least very, very near). I live in the city and I don't have a car. I never really need one. I've got two grocery stores within a block and a half and everything else I need in walking distance.

    The suburbs on the other hand...they are the definition of sprawl (with the exception of Oak Park and Evanston maybe). You couldn't live in the suburbs without owning a car. Residential is completely separated from retail. Can't even get groceries without jumping in your car.

    There are a few trains that run from the city to the suburbs, but they generally only have one stop in each suburb. This makes it great for commuters into the city, but impossible to get around inside the various suburbs.

    Its weird that Chicago developed so well inside the city, yet so poory outside it.

    Taft
     
  12. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    serendipity
    #12
    well that's the same with nyc basically.

    and that's the problem. i mean, if i were to live in the city, i'd still want to own a car and keep it... somewhere. because when i come to the suburbs to visit the majority of my friends/family, i'd want to be able to get around. also, train costs keep skyrocketing...

    within nyc, you can go anywhere and do anything without a car of course. but it's the towns and suburbs that the issue holds true with mostly.
     
  13. britboy macrumors 68030

    britboy

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    #13

    Same here in Aachen (about an hour away by train from you:)). All the students here in the WG have bikes, plus students get bus-passes. Decent public transport, and bicycle-lanes on virtually every road help to make this a very nice place to live. The air is just beautifully clean :) (helps that this happens to be a rather windy area)

    Switching more to pedal-power could also help to reduce the level of obesity america suffers from ;)
     
  14. jelloshotsrule thread starter macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    serendipity
    #14
    whoooaaaa. where's that broken record?

    i don't own a bike at the moment. i would like to if it made any sense to given what type of transportation i need.

    but you make a good point mum kisser. it'd help environmentally, physically, and probably socially... as it is i have to drive 4 hours to see my girlfriend, best friends, etc.

    but that is different than everyday life driving. which should be much less.... i should get a rocketpack.
     
  15. britboy macrumors 68030

    britboy

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    #15

    Ok, i'll get off the america-bashing soap-box :p

    Can you imagine the chaos if everyone flew to work with their personal jet-pack? Tomorrow's World......
     
  16. kansaigaijin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    the great ether
    #16
    sprawl

    wow you guys can have a decent conversttion about something besides puters.
    Cheers,
    But I'll put my two ¥ (yen in tomorrow) got an early morning class tomorrow, in Osaka, a one hour train ride away, 30min get to sit down(':)') to Kyoto, 30 min standing to Osaka(':(') (but not crammed like Tokyo) express trains go every 15 min. People commute in every direction, you can't talk about city vs suburb here . . .
    and the air is not bad on the weekend . . .

    more tomorrow
     
  17. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2001
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Ca
    #17
    quick comment

    There's a fundamental point not being made: Urbanism is obsolete.

    With emerging wireless tech and the advancement of true telepresence the idea of a city becomes obsurd.

    With the tech available it makes more sense to do good mass transit and mass-telecommuting. The Industrial revolution is over. Anyone want a high-tech hobbit hole?:D

    Oh yeah: the single largest source of petroleum emmisions is not cars, it's Diesel commercial vehicles and busses. The US has NO environmental restraints on Diesel.
     
  18. big macrumors 65816

    big

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    #18
    NO NO- Urbanism is in need of a serious overhaul, it is dead, not obsolete! We need to retrain and educate people on how to live life better and fuller.

    With the advent of technology, you can walk 3-4 blocks to your shared work space and do all your work along side say completely different professions in the same building.

    on the way home you can pickup the milk from the corner store.

    or you can have your office downstairs from your 3 bedroom loft (Townhouse scenario). Currently people can not do this, look at the old pictures of London, all the shops are on the ground floor, and their homes were above.

    Last, besides education, we will need to retool our farming industries to serve areas closer to where they sell their goods. ie, The state of Maine may not get fresh Oranges in December.

    When the Oil crisis hits, we are going to be in trouble. The US is "Sleepwalking" into this coming century, and thinking we will always have these huge amounts of oil to get us where we want to go.

    Anyone from Cicily? Most of the Greecian islands would fit within Huntsville, and those town's do remarkably well for themselves.
     
  19. big macrumors 65816

    big

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    #19
    Another huge venue to consider for Urbanism will be "Proper Infill". Here in Huntsville we are losing one of our most pristene pieces of land to 2 things, A big ugly box of a building, and a parking lot.

    When I last spoke to the Owner's they had told me "we will do this right, and create a "Village shopping area" like a particular area in Birmingham. Though it didn't happen, it proves using well planned Urbanism techniques, developments that may cost a little more than a big box, turn over their revenue much better, and for longer (centuries not decades)

    We are also using the bottom floors of some of our parking decks as pedestrian friendly shops etc... this wil give us parking, as well as a reason to be there. Makes the building multi purpose, encourages growth downtown (jobs, shopping, necessities etc).

    There is much to do still in the states, though these are only a few good examples of why Urbanism is needed more now, to correct the last 3 generations mistakes
     
  20. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2001
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Ca
    #20
    I think we're going the same direction here.

    I was being brief cuz I had other thing going on.

    Yes, absolutely there will need to be a shift in consciousness about city planning. There's more hurldles than just zoning and ordinance though. Between the new UBC and contractors/cities covering their Legal exposure mixed use never gets implemented.

    I think any revolution in community development will have to begin in unincorporated areas in liberal counties.

    You are absolutely correct about Agroculture as well, though if we're going to go all the way with this the whole picture changes. Power, septic, everything.
     
  21. big macrumors 65816

    big

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    #21
    power and septic really do not rely so closely on local conditions as agriculture will (in the gas free/or really expensive gas, future)
     
  22. big macrumors 65816

    big

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    #22
    this may be a good forum for me to try and enlist "townspeople". For my thesis I am trying to set up a "virtual town".

    I need a mayor, councilmen workers etc...
    the idea will be to set up voting polls, and a message board. A design team to draft this virtual town.

    I want to set up buildings codes, setbacks, easements and the like. It is an experiment to see if a community of people can draw the town and decide where the public buildings should go. If I had more programming experience, I would like to give people a virtual salary for the work they do in the town, so when you log in, you can see your residence, ytour bank account and see where your money goes through taxes we impose on the town

    I't be kind of like sim city i guess, any suggestions on how to do that? any volunteers? I think it could be kind of big If I could pull it off.

    Let's say you sign up for mayor, the community has a voting day (before hand you pass out flyers (emails), and can have an online debate)

    someone can sign up for a garbage man (if their is a position available) and every month in their sign in page, they'd see their salary and spend "X" amount on groceries and what not, (you wouldn't have to really dump garbage of course)

    I'd be willing to set up a server here in my house (running OSX server of course) and let everyone have free range on the ftp or html programming to help me set it up.

    let me know if your interested.

    http://sherroddrawings.com/projects/planning/
     
  23. jc658 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2002
    #23
    The Timeless Way of Building

    Urbanists on this thread may want to read The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (1979). The book proposes an architectural philosophy for building structures and towns that are in harmony with themselves and the people that live in them. While quite conservative in its approach, it is great reading for those concerned about the trends of (American) town planning since the 50s. I think there is a third book in the series that discusses the process of building an entire town according to the philosophy. Strangely the book also sparked a whole discipline of computer science.
     
  24. Ifeelbloated macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    some God forsaken place
    #24
    Guys, the American dream is to own your own home with a yard and fence. It's been that way since the end of WWII. Everyone wants their own private yard to call their own. Suburban sprawl is here to stay, unfortunately.
    I don't see it going away in the car-centric American psyche. Americans just love their cars too much. It's a method of convenience and that's what America is all about.
    We go to work in office cubicles, sit on butts all day in a job we probably don't much like but it pays well so I can brag on how much money I make and drive to the gym in my big SUV and get on a treadmill to work off all those fast-food lunches that gives me the energy to complain about my hurried yuppy lifestyle.
    (Breathing in deeply)
    Aren't people funny?:D
     
  25. kansaigaijin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Location:
    the great ether
    #25
    virtual town



    what is your thesis on, Politics or Architecture and Planning?

    what you propose sounds like politics, or sociology.

    rather than virtual salaries, you could alot virtual property and rights (zoning) to go with it. Then the participants design developments to fit the program.

    Check Architosh, I think you can find some free cad software people can use to submit their projects, and maybe recruit more participants.

    But it would be very SIMplistic, compared to modeling systems out there, but maybe that would make it more interesting and organic. I am not to impressed with the average realestate development.
     

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