Join Gary Hustwit for an in-depth discussion in this video Edgar Pieterse, part of Urbanized.
Edgar: I think the last five years or so there's been a shift in the general awareness or consciousness about this urban question. I suppose it's this hype around we're now 50% urban as a species or whatever. It has, in a way, induced again this yearning for utopia. That there is a kind of a design solution that can deal with the environmental question, you know, cities being the main contributor to CO2 emissions and that they fundamentally are the cause of environmental and sustainability, and this need for figuring out a new way of being, a new way of living, in terms of the basics of family life and career and jobs, mobile jobs and all of that kind of stuff.
The prospect of being able to work in an urban environment that's not necessarily a large city, right? It's been interesting for me, at least, as a non-technical person, to just see birth at the level of these eco-cities like Masdar or Tianjin or whatever, this massive reinvestment in this very old idea that there is somewhere waiting out there perfect form and shape of the city that can solve all our problems.
Also, this idea that somehow you can get rid of the messiness of urban life. In a way, what makes cities interesting is that they're messy and unpredictable and chaotic and crazy and they throw up the unexpected which is us fuels us, right? Density is again, being, it's a little bit like BRT, it's one of the big obvious goods and taken for granted goods, and of course, it's a lot more complex.
Density is, I think, it's such a cultural issue. It is so profoundly social-cultural, that is very difficult to talk about it or think about it in a uniform way. Obviously, from a resource efficiency point of view, density makes a lot of sense on a whole lot of levels, and it does provide quite an important thinking principle for redesigning mobility, redesigning the relationship between different functionalities in the city and so on.
But it would be a massive error to confuse a design idea principle with real life cities and real life processes. I think what we will see is a movement towards greater densities in different manifestations but an incredible variety of how that is interpreted and manifested at an urban scale in different cultural contexts. I think that what will happen is that I think, probably in the U.S. context in particular and certainly in South Africa where our urban form mirrors the American urban form, there'll be great resistance from the middle classes who live in suburbs to densification and all of what goes with it.
But that resistance will simply be met with new taxation instruments in 10, 15 years time when the new urban management and urban infrastructure technologies require a more compact urban form. The degree of compaction will vary, I can't envisage American cities somehow becoming European cities over the next 30, 40 years. That's unforeseeable but there will definitely be a much greater movement towards compaction.
It will be achieved through taxation. That's going to be how municipalities are going to drive that energy. I think that the resistance will be there, it will be loud, it will be aggressive but I think that for governments, they won't have a choice.
Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren't created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact on improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized frames a global discussion on the future of cities.
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