Beyond smart cities

Fascinating review. Made me think about Singapore, and what Amazon has done to Seattle, and Hudson Yards in New York, and the new smart neighborhoods planned for Chicago. Ordering the book.

Two interesting ideas from down a ways in the essay:

One: “At the turn of the 20th century, the twin infectious disease threats of tuberculosis and the Spanish flu combined with faddish ideas on wellness among people rich enough to afford their own architects, and led to something new. As the architectural historian Biatriz Colomina has written, that was Modernism, with its clean lines, honest materials, porous relationship between the indoors and outdoors, more sunlight, more ventilation, and solid surfaces that were easy to clean. It was more than an aesthetic. It was disease control.”

Two: “Humans build cities as fortresses against failure: economic collapse, natural catastrophe, human venality and cowardice. The city walls keep those things out, when they work. If houses are, as the architect Mies van de Rohe said, “machines for living,” then cities are places where those machines get daisy-chained into a society. Cities are machines for cooperation, and survival.”

[from Wired]

Also reminded of a companion piece about the work of an acquaintance from college, an architect who has turned to imaging what truly inclusive, pandemic-resistant buildings might look like.

“Through the front door, in a vestibule, one-way entry and exit routes were mediated by a planter. Each side had a hand-sanitizing station along the wall. A second, interior door separated this transition zone from the rest of the building. Once inside, a visitor encountered a wide lobby. Across it, directly ahead, an information desk was positioned back-to-back with a bank of lockers. Behind that partition were multigender restroom stalls; rooms, with showers, that could be used by caregivers, nursing mothers and even bike commuters; and prayer rooms and foot-washing stations for religious practices. Motion-activated sinks abutted the walkway. The space is more of a “wellness hub” now than a “bathroom,” Sanders said — so they decided to put it front and center rather than hide it.”
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