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Cities Gone to Seed: Richard Register's Visions

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  • Robert Monie
    Hi Gloria and All, This is getting a little off topic, moving from natural farming to city planning and architecture, so I will keep it short. The most
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2003
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      Hi Gloria and All,

      This is getting a little off topic, moving from natural farming to city planning and architecture, so I will keep it short.

      The most accessible visionary drawings of Richard Register are in his 1987 book, "Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future." (Still in print and available used for less than $7.00). He shows parts of Berkeley, California familiar to residents and frequent visitors as they would appear if allowed to revegetate and return to their pre-built origins. Great bundled masses of foliage and wilderness impinge upon the once familiar street scenes, as if tons of kudzu or some other luxuriant weed were allowed to grow unopposed. Nature claims the city as her own, giving an effect something like the "jungle" that Michiyo described in first viewing Fukuoka's favorite present-day farm, in India. The India farm is probably wilder, though, since Register retained enough of the old superstructure to enable sharp-eyed Berkleyites to still recognize the once-familiar places. On the Indian farm, I expect everything resembling superstructure has been obliterated.

      I'm not fond of Register's building designs (too clunky and not really state of the art in using photovoltaics and "intelligent skins,") and I am not impressed by his approach to agriculture (pretty much old-line organic), but his overall notion of dumping the automobile domination of the city and letting the foliage run wild (or semi-wild) is compelling.

      To catch the spirit of his approach, go to http://www.google.com and search for "Depaving the World by Richard Register." He wants to pull up most of the concrete and asphalt and let the bounty of the Earth spring up in its place. Amazon.com lists more recent books by him.

      Bob Monie, talking too much about architecture, in Southeast Louisiana.



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