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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 4:23 AM
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Urban theory

Let's think outside of the box and discuss what your theories are on what makes a city great. Why are the best cities in the world so livable. What is the ultimate goal? Human longevity? Ultimate pleasure? This is a thread for discussing how the best cities became that way and what they are doing to preserve that
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 6:03 AM
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This is kind of a narrow criterion, and probably rather obvious, but I've always considered a certain amount of green space necessary for a livable city.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 12:51 PM
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I guess density coupled with a pedestrian friendly design, boosting street activity are the key for a great city. Outgoing inhabitants help as well, as it increase the numbers of amenities available such as bars, restaurants and other equipments.

New York (although their grid doesn't count favourably), São Paulo, Buenos Aires, London, Tokyo are the main examples of that. Smaller cities can do it as well (Porto Alegre, Barcelona, Berlin, etc.).
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 2:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
This is a thread for discussing how the best cities became that way and what they are doing to preserve that
All cities are where they are because of Location, Location, Location!

Moderate climates, developable land, access to fresh water, agriculture, raw materials, trade routes. It is no surprise that New York is the largest city in America and will remain so.

Some cities don't really have to do much to put forth much of an effort to preserve their urban character and to build off of it - because of their location.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 3:32 PM
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money and how big the city started out are the biggest reasons cities are big.

if it was because of location then there would be a bunch of big cities on the west coast.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 3:44 PM
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Cities are great when its people are great. Cities suck when its people suck. Sort of an obvious truth but there you go.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 3:51 PM
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Cities are great when its people are great. Cities suck when its people suck. Sort of an obvious truth but there you go.
what if there was a city that you didn't have to be around people all the time?

too crowded and there will be chaos and not crowded not efficient and not walkable.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 3:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
Let's think outside of the box and discuss what your theories are on what makes a city great. Why are the best cities in the world so livable. What is the ultimate goal? Human longevity? Ultimate pleasure? This is a thread for discussing how the best cities became that way and what they are doing to preserve that
Took many years of such nonsense in college, and the one thing that struck me was how many decades of Urban Planning were actually full of Utopian megalomaniacs with terrible ideas.

I came to find that the best thing urban planners can do is to build the "truss' a very basic groundwork and then let nature take its course. Way to many people in the "urban planning" universe seem to think they can force solve their problems when the best urban environments they want to emulate and export around the world were hardly planned at all and instead the result of decades of natural growth and layers upon layers of different decisions and times to produce....idk magic?

Some of the ideas to retrofit suburbia are decent considering what they are working with and even though people on this website like to bash it modern apartment designs in the USA are much better today than the last several decades and eventually will contribute to better urban environments down the road.

Keep in mind many of the old red brick tenements in NYC today that give it Character were cheaply built slums for factory workers back in the day. They were certainly not seen as classic and desirable places at the time they were built.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 4:07 PM
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Took many years of such nonsense in college, and the one thing that struck me was how many decades of Urban Planning were actually full of Utopian megalomaniacs with terrible ideas.

I came to find that the best thing urban planners can do is to build the "truss' a very basic groundwork and then let nature take its course. Way to many people in the "urban planning" universe seem to think they can force solve their problems when the best urban environments they want to emulate and export around the world were hardly planned at all and instead the result of decades of natural growth and layers upon layers of different decisions and times to produce....idk magic?

Same problem in the architectural field as well, with far too many who think they can design their way to utopia.

Humans will naturally and organically use spaces that are available to them in the best way possible. That's not something that can be contrived and planned - adaptability just needs to be something that's allowed for in our buildings and cities.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 4:26 PM
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Originally Posted by SFBruin View Post
This is kind of a narrow criterion, and probably rather obvious, but I've always considered a certain amount of green space necessary for a livable city.
Yes this is huge!

A comprehensive and high functioning transit system is also key to making a city liviable..Density and limiting sprawl is also important. Having both the connectivity to other major cities, as well as it's proximity to nature also adds to the livability of a city. i.e Vancouver with it's mountains + being a stones throw away to saay Seattle as one example.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 4:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obadno View Post
Took many years of such nonsense in college, and the one thing that struck me was how many decades of Urban Planning were actually full of Utopian megalomaniacs with terrible ideas.

I came to find that the best thing urban planners can do is to build the "truss' a very basic groundwork and then let nature take its course. Way to many people in the "urban planning" universe seem to think they can force solve their problems when the best urban environments they want to emulate and export around the world were hardly planned at all and instead the result of decades of natural growth and layers upon layers of different decisions and times to produce....idk magic?

While I was kind of annoyed at the time, I'm now glad that my urban planning degree focused more on critical theory / history than it did on application of zoning policies and the like. It made it harder to get that initial job, but you can learn the technical details in the field (which vary by jurisdiction anyways). In the long run it's more important to understand the context in why certain decisions were made and the effects they had that have led us to our current state.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 5:29 PM
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All I have to say is fffffffffking traffic..it took me and hour and 20 minutes to make it to the Portland airport last night. So yes, dense, walkable and transit friendly is a must. I think our culture needs some reprogramming tho. Too many single commuters clogging up the road. Somehow the urban model must change I think. Suburbs need to become satellite cbds.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 5:31 PM
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Also let's remember planning is a social science based on theory. I agree, the best cities have grown organically
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 5:59 PM
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Same problem in the architectural field as well, with far too many who think they can design their way to utopia.

Humans will naturally and organically use spaces that are available to them in the best way possible. That's not something that can be contrived and planned - adaptability just needs to be something that's allowed for in our buildings and cities.
Modern Paris was designed as a master planned utopia. Efficiently designed American cities have achieved productivity and wealth never before seen in history. It shows what's possible, when the work isn't being done by rank amateurs
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 6:43 PM
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Modern Paris was designed as a master planned utopia. Efficiently designed American cities have achieved productivity and wealth never before seen in history. It shows what's possible, when the work isn't being done by rank amateurs

The Hausmann Plan of Paris wasn't really as comprehensive as it's sometimes given credit for. It carved several grand boulevards through the existing built form, but everything inbetween is still based on the organic medieval grid.





This isn't to say that planning is bad, of course. Any place needs some level of cohesive plans and regulation - it's just the rigid, top-down masterplanned approach that's been the dominant way of thinking about urban planning & architecture for the past 70 years or so often doesn't provide enough room to allow for the organic complexities of life and for adaptive re-use. They're dictated by a small handful of people designing communities based on they think people should use them, and not how they actually will.

This sort of thing looks nice, but there's not a whole lot you can do with it if the needs of its inhabitants were to change:


https://urbantoronto.ca/news/2019/10...ies-plant-site
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 6:46 PM
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Modern Paris was designed as a master planned utopia. Efficiently designed American cities have achieved productivity and wealth never before seen in history. It shows what's possible, when the work isn't being done by rank amateurs
But does that wealth make us any more happy? It seems like the gap between the haves and the nots has grown exponentially, especially in the nimby happy urban west. I agree cities are only as great as their inhabitants and there has been a palpable, shift towards greed and anti social attitudes. This country has become bitter and mean. Maybe its always been like and technology has just magnified the shitiness. Even my old as dirt; half blind, never leaves the house, no email having mother has noticed. I'll be curious to see what happens in Minneapolis and Oregon now that sfh exclusive zoning has been banned. I don't know it's going to produce a more egalitarian city. It might just create expensive town houses.
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Last edited by pdxtex; Nov 22, 2019 at 7:25 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 6:49 PM
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This sort of thing looks nice, but there's not a whole lot you can do with it if the needs of its inhabitants were to change:


https://urbantoronto.ca/news/2019/10...ies-plant-site
That's exactly what I mean by work done by rank amateurs
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 9:40 PM
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What Halo is this from?
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 10:04 PM
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Any city that has the political and societal infrastructure to react and change incrementally over time, with a pedestrian culture, is going to be a great city.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 10:05 PM
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This is top-down nonsense for the rich.
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