The Machine that ended Urbanism

Urban Figure Ground drawing of Detroit, USA

The series of plan images shown above illustrate the city of Detroit through the 20th century.
Many unprecedented and unsolvable problems regarding urbanism was born with the main stream adaptation of the automobile through out the 20th century.

A gradual and unprecedented need for vast amounts of inhuman spaces for parking, large roads completely out of human scale, and, eventually, shopping malls which were enforced on the city plan through the common senses of comfort and least amount of resistance was born. Today it is virtually impossible to create urban civic art reminiscent to the way it was done prior to the automobile. The only cities left in Europe which are pleasant in experience are the ones that are difficult to drive in, due to preservationist policies of city planning and strict adherence to the pedestrian friendly historic corridors and urban spaces closed to vehicular traffic within the city. Is this by sheer luck that the tourist attracting cities are the ones that are less vehicular friendly? You simply can’t have both. I can’t call these populated concrete villages that we live in a city anymore, it is something else, maybe a complicated series of vertical storage units between vehicular roads? The 20th century American model of an ideal city with the automobile as its center piece was a complete failure. Some smart European city planners saw this and worked with existing urban fabrics instead, and now they attract billions of dollars through tourism even during winter seasons. On the other hand, it is clear that Turkey has chosen the American philosophy of city planning with the automobile experience having an indispensable role, in turn having a huge gap between winter and summer tourism (focused mainly at beach resorts) numbers, hence not having a single walkable city. There are many subtle parallels to what the smart phone did similarly to the automobile in the last 15 years; again we have an inhuman piece of technology that changes natural norms of daily life. What type of maps will be generated 100 years from now showing the affects of digitization? Time will show, but I highly doubt it will be for the better.

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