Saturday, February 2, 2013


By: Jaime Correa

At the beginning of the twentieth century, only sixteen cities in the world had populations exceeding one million people, yet at the close of the first decade of the new millennium more than five hundred have reached the same mark and more than half of the world’s population has elected to live within the confines of urban territories; just within the next ten years, 70 million people per year will be added to the world’s urban population. This is not an easy concept to understand. The rapid urbanization of the world brings all of us to wonder about the opposition of urbanism and landscape, scarcity and sustainability, nature and the man-made, time and space, determinism and free-will, change and permanence, industrialization and self-sufficiency, or entropy and recovery.

The nowadays familiar consequences of this rampant process of urbanization have been: environmental degradation, climate change,
[1] water shortages, agricultural deficiencies, desertification, deforestation, depletion of natural energy sources, fossil fuel dependency, overpopulation, and the irreparable loss of biodiversity. Whether we like it or not, the construction of the city entails the subjugation of nature and landscape. We find our selves at a historic threshold in which we must be aware of every human action and every collective determination. A time which will abide by a new model deploying creative sustainable solutions and a more holistic approach to urban development; a more promising and radical form of a hybrid practice than those defined by rigid disciplinary categorizations. 

The medical profession hides its mistakes in the tombs of the modern necropolis; architecture and urban design display them for decades and centuries to come. Therefore, our work must necessarily involve the entire range of design options with distinguishable ethical, moral, and metaphysical responsibilities. Professor Richard T. T. Forman at the Harvard School of Design describes it in a few words, “imagine a group of rhinos rampaging through a restaurant, while we concentrate on adjusting the napkins, filling the glass, and brushing some crumbs. So it seems on the land, we focus on our house lots, our small developments, sometimes our towns, while giant forces are degrading, even transforming our valuable properties”.
[2] In fact, all problems are tractable rather than hopeless or complex. 

What we see is what we built!

[1] Scientists are still arguing about the potential causes and effects of the current climate variations. To our dismay, they do not have a definite answer.[2] Forman, Richard T. T. Urban Regions: ecology and planning beyond the city. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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