No-one wants top-down, technology-driven cities. They’d be dumb, not smart.

The Urban Technologist

("Visionary City" by William Robinson Leigh) (William Robinson Leigh’s 1908 painting “Visionary City” envisaged future cities constructed from mile-long buildings of hundreds of storeys connected by gas-lit skyways for trams, pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. A century later we’re starting to realise not only that developments in transport and power technology have eclipsed Leigh’s vision, but that we don’t want to live in cities constructed from buildings on this scale.)

But “bottom up” is not enough; in order to succeed at scale, grass-roots innovation and localism need support from a new environment of policy, finance, infrastructure and technology.

I took part in a panel discussion last week with Leo Johnson, co-author of “Turnaround Challenge: Business and the City of the Future” (and, coincidentally, the brother of London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson). Leo argued in an impassioned speech that we should avoid overly deterministic “top-down” approaches to developing sustainable cities, and should instead encourage “bottom-up” innovation. His…

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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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One Response to No-one wants top-down, technology-driven cities. They’d be dumb, not smart.

  1. dmf says:

    ah these techno-utopians and their reality denying speculations, meanwhile this is the actual state of “no one” wanting such developments:
    “Whatever else this might be, it’s big.
    For decades, China’s government has tried to limit the size of Beijing, the capital, through draconian residency permits. Now, the government has embarked on an ambitious plan to make Beijing the center of a new supercity of 130 million people. […] The planned megalopolis, a metropolitan area that would be about six times the size of New York’s, is meant to revamp northern China’s economy and become a laboratory for modern urban growth. […] “The supercity is the vanguard of economic reform,” said Liu Gang, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin who advises local governments on regional development. “It reflects the senior leadership’s views on the need for integration, innovation and environmental protection.” […] The new region will link the research facilities and creative culture of Beijing with the economic muscle of the port city of Tianjin and the hinterlands of Hebei Province, forcing areas that have never cooperated to work together. The integrated ‘supercity’ would have a population larger than Japan’s (and larger than all but eight countries in the world, excluding China itself).”
    http://www.ufblog.net/big-plans/

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