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Re: [carfree_cities] My incredible joy shattered by one plank in theplatform!!!

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  • Todd J. Binkley
    Greetings worldnick: ... It s a pretty impressive site. I was somewhat less bedazzled than you on my first visit, but after careful review of the book that
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 3, 2000
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      Greetings worldnick:

      You wrote:

      >My heart nearly lept out of my body on discovery of this web site.
      >imagine a whole group of people devoted to

      It's a pretty impressive site. I was somewhat less bedazzled than you
      on my first visit, but after careful review of the book that goes with
      this site, I too have become fairly excited at the possibilities that
      lie before us.

      > the VERY point I have been
      >trying to convince people of since I was 12 years old.

      How many years does that make, then?
      How many have you convinced? :^]
      I never seem to get very far when I 'try to convince' someone of
      something. My impression is that most people prefer to reach their own
      conclusions, based on the information available to them. First-hand
      experiences are perhaps the most persuasive.

      >but then all my hopes were dashed
      >by this monstrosity of blindness:
      >"Four-Story Buildings
      >In fact one of the most VITAL aspects of
      >building a carless city is building 3 dimensionally, making things
      >CLOSER, NOT FURTHER.

      Four-story buildings are in fact three-dimensional; and in most parts of
      the world their construction would bring many people much closer
      together.

      >a groundless arguement that living higher causes harm.

      Some of the 'grounds' upon which this controversial argument is based,
      were referenced in the exerpt from carfree.com which you pasted in your
      message: "(See A Pattern Language for a detailed discussion of
      this point.)"
      Part of this detailed discussion (in Christopher Alexander's pithy,
      magnum opus, 'A Pattern Language', pp. 114-19) goes as follows:

      "At three or four stories, one can still walk comfortably down to the
      street, and from a window you can still feel part of the street scene:
      you can see details in the street---the people, their faces, foliage,
      shops. From three (or four) stories you can yell out, and catch the
      attention of someone below. Above four stories these connections break
      down. The visual detail is lost; people speak of the scene below as if
      it were (a distant, alien place) from which they are completely
      detached. The connection to the ground and to the fabric of the town
      becomes tenuous; the building becomes a world of its own, with its own
      elevators and cafeterias."

      "...high-rise living takes people away from...the casual everyday
      society that occurs on (porches, sidewalks and streets). It leaves them
      alone in their apartments. The decision to go out for some public life
      becomes formal and awkward; and unless there is some specific task which
      brings people out into the world, the tendency is to stay home, alone.
      The forced isolation then causes individual breakdowns."

      Alexander cites the following evidence to support his argument:

      "Families in Flats", British Medical Journal, November 18, 1967,
      pp.382-86. "(author of the study) D.M. Fanning shows a direct
      correlation between incidence of mental disorder and the height of
      people's apartments. The higher people live off the ground, the more
      likely are they to suffer mental illness. ....the correlation is
      strongest for the people who spend the most time in their apartments.

      "Mental Health and the High Rise," Canadian Public Health Association,
      April 1971. ( Dr. D. Cappon): 'Young children in a high-rise are much
      more socially deprived of neighborhood peers than their Single Family
      Dwelling counterparts, hence they are poorly socialized and at too close
      quarters to adults, who are tense and irritable as a consequence.'"

      "A Danish study by Jeanne Morville (reference in Danish) adds more
      evidence:
      'Children from the high blocks start playong out of doors on their own
      at a later age than children from the low blocks: Only 2% of the
      children aged two to three years in the high blocks play on their own
      out of doors, while 27% of the children in the low blocks do this.
      ...Young children have fewer contacts with playmates than those in the
      low blocks...'"

      "Oscar Newman, in 'Defensible Space'...compared two adjacent housing
      projects in New York---one high-rise, the other a collection of
      relatively small three-story walk-up buildings. The two projects have
      the same overall density, and their inhabitants have roughly the same
      income. But Newman found that the crime rate in the high-rise was
      roughly twice that in the walk-ups.

      I would add that high-rise buildings also usually have miserable,
      one-setting-fits-all, heating and ventilation systems; oppressive rules
      governing access and the behavior of users; and dreary circulation
      corridors that frustrate social interaction:
      Imagine the level of warmth (vs. suspicion) which is greeted upon a
      person standing alone in a long, narrow, artificially-lit corridor....
      Compare this image with one of the same person, standing alone on a
      balcony or an open-air passageway, overlooking a pedestrian-filled
      street.
      Imagine a grand, open stairway, with generous landings that invite
      people to pause and chat briefly, or survey the area below them; where
      some come to sit and have lunch, read, or simply watch the world go by;
      and where many people can get some of the regular excerise they so
      desperately need....
      Compare this with waiting for, then riding a stuffy, lumbering
      elevator: all feet pointing toward the door, all eyes on the floor
      number overhead. Where few would ever dream of lingering. Where in the
      presence of a fire, power failure or a criminal, there exists a very
      real threat of becoming trapped and injured or even killed.

      Because of code limitations on population density, high-rises are also
      often surrounded by inhospitable open space; which, lacking proper
      enclosure and human scale, are typically lifeless, and prone to neglect.

      All this having been said, their is no reason that part of a carfree
      city could not be built with skyscrapers; for those who enjoy the views
      from them, prefer the relative isolation from the street, and are
      willing to pay the full costs of living in them. The downtown districts
      of any carfree city will inevitably have some taller buildings.

      >The most logical way to build a car free city...

      ...may not necessarily be the most desirable. However...

      >...with travel taking place on MULTIPLE levels...

      Good point. An elegant variation of this, which is mentioned (and
      pictured) in 'Carfree Cities' (p. 159), is a ground floor passageway
      which leads through a building, called a 'sottoportego'.
      Open catwalks, like those seen in Mediteranean vernacular architecture
      (atop archways that span the narrow gaps between buildings), would also
      be a nice feature, which would offer delightful pedestrian travel
      between the upper floors of opposing buildings.

      > the quickest path between point a and point b...

      ...(for distances too far to walk) will usually be either on a bicycle
      or a train; at, or below, grade level.

      >Your location in a city should not be designated by a mear 2
      >coordinate system, but also a third coordinate accounting for height
      >or even DEPTH, as building underground is just as practicle.

      This is an interesting point. Personal satellite navigation devices may
      soon help guide tourists and other infrequent visitors through
      unfamiliar cities. These are already available in rental cars. Adding
      the third coordinate to a homing device that parents could use to locate
      their children (or spouses to locate each other while shopping, etc.),
      could be quite useful.
      Building underground, while seldom as practical as building on it, can
      be desirable in areas with long, cold winters. The (passenger) metro
      described in the book, 'Carfree Cities', is underground. The separate,
      metro-freight system runs below street level in an open trench.

      >I'm sorry, but I cannot possibly condone this web site which had for
      >a brief moment been the boon in my crusade. There is a grievous flaw
      >that negates the whole arguement present and to refer someone here
      >would only confuse them.

      Well, that's a shame. Should you change your mind, however, and if you
      promise to tone down your rhetoric a couple of notches, and work on your
      spelling { :^] }, some of the subscribers to this list would be happy to
      hear any other interesting thoughts you might have, and we'll try and
      dispell any confusion that arises.

      Best wishes,

      -T.J.








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    • Nicholas J
      T.J., Throughout your speech on the isolation of inhabitants in tall buildings I couldn t help, but wonder why you were still stuck in the archaic mode of one
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 3, 2000
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        T.J.,

        Throughout your speech on the isolation of inhabitants in tall
        buildings I couldn't help, but wonder why you were still stuck in the
        archaic mode of one locomotive level cities. Later you say:

        "Good point. An elegant variation of this, which is mentioned (and
        pictured) in 'Carfree Cities' (p. 159), is a ground floor passageway
        which leads through a building, called a 'sottoportego'.
        Open catwalks, like those seen in Mediteranean vernacular architecture
        (atop archways that span the narrow gaps between buildings), would
        also
        be a nice feature, which would offer delightful pedestrian travel
        between the upper floors of opposing buildings."

        You should have considered this beforehand, but to a progressive
        extreme. The bustling crowds, street vendors, and insane orators
        need never be more than four stories away even in the tallest of
        cities. Not only walk ways, but cafes, large town squares, and other
        gathering centers should be located on these multiple levels in a
        city. Now you may be thinking that sunlight wouldn't reach the
        under
        levels so easily in this scenario. But this wouldn't be a problem if
        the level's activity centers and paths were designed in non-
        overlapping sparse grids. Remember you need far less surface area
        for people than cars. Granted the deepest levels may be a smidgeon
        dimmer eventually, but those bits would be reserved for the least
        residential aspects of the city.

        I was twelve eight years ago. Of course I hope my youth doesn't hurt
        my credibility, if even there is such a thing online. I live in
        california, no one here is just going to 'come to the realization
        based on the evidence,' this is the most autocentric place on earth.
        When I speak up here I might as well be cursing jesus.

        Mike said something about needing more power in a 3Dimensional city.
        Well I can't say that's false, but I can say with human feet doing
        most the work and the energy collected from objects being lowered
        (for instance any time a group of people/freight takes an elevator
        down some energy can be made from that force) the energy will be much
        less than you think.

        I'm not going to give up just yet
        Nick.
      • Sam Hodgkinson
        It seems my lengthy reply to your previous posting has been lost through the ether, but anyway, the gist of my reply then was that we mustn t lose our sense of
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 4, 2000
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          It seems my lengthy reply to your previous posting has been lost
          through the ether, but anyway, the gist of my reply then was that we
          mustn't lose our sense of scale.
          A city of boxes, towers and expansive empty public squares was okay
          for the 50s and 60s, but it's abit inorganic, tired and monstrous.

          Cities of the mind can be perfect, efficient and manageable in every
          sense, but the real construct needs to be useable and liveable.
          I would hate to live in a high-density legoland.

          I just don't think you should throw the proverbial baby out with the
          bathwater.

          I'm only 5 years older than you in your age description.
          What a difference you will find a year makes in dealing with town
          planning and urban design issues!
          Wouldn't it make more sense to tackle the issues at ground level?
          (excuse my punning)

          Come to Sydney to witness the development paradigm here. Perhaps you
          won't feel California's urban areas are the most autocentric and
          shockingly planned places in the world after all.

          Keep the discussion going!

          Cheers,

          Sam.
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