Aug 4, 2013

There used to be character and stories associated with every city street in good old time!

Contemporary Déjà vu streets - the price of mechanization, optimization and efficiency. 

Though green, well groomed, with cool informative signage and everything in place, contemporary city streets lack something, possibly lack of identity, lack of character may be! Every street looks the same more or less, you see from streets of your housing society to the neighborhood to city arteries, apart from little exceptions of some filth some beautification. What has gone wrong with the planners, landscape architects and urban designers today. You should first visualize the impactful streets of historic cities and meandering streets of untouched villages and then have a look at today's super functional streets, speed corridors rather, these are impressive indeed with all its robustness, but these are not impactful, at all, not something leaving lasting impression on our mind, not something to be remembered, not something to be praised by our future generations. Functional but industrial. Templates of supposedly best practices. But we forget that best practices lose their significance the moment we start, duplicating, imposing and transposing them. some of the mass public housing are the best example of how best practices can go wrong. 

Is it that there is no incentive left today at all to plan or design a street with character, is it that cities, public administrations and private clients lack fund (a myth) or we are robbed of imagination, is it that there are some big loopholes and ambiguity in the planning and design guidelines giving planners and designers an excuse not to be creative, is it that we have become so much efficiency oriented that we forgot we are not machines, is it that land is so scarce (a myth again) that we cant afford to have luxury of building streets with a memorable character, is it that after reading all those wonderful street characteristics in school we finally resort to the super efficient mechanized street templates, has it something to do with our optimized geometric city grid and complex infrastructure requirements, is it our drafting software to blame which has almost replaced our dear drawing boards, is it that scope of creativity is increasing being confined to the pedestrian and bicycle streets only, is it that urban designers role has been limited to the extent mentioned in their design guide book which either don't exist or is too vague for the cities of developing countries or too standardized for developed country? You see those bizarre public sculptures and momentous in the streets at places, those are nothing but helpless reactions of creative urban souls who are not being able to create a place called street in the way it should be, due to much propagated and regularized contemporary templates of streets. 

Can we dare to show some creativity amidst this long list of incentives and loopholes for "not to be creative". Can we as a planner, urban designers and landscape experts show them our humane side keeping cities monetary limitations (A myth) aside for a while. Can we design a street with an innate quality of "place" where you would often want to spend your time or something which you would like to appreciate while you driving back home?

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