ECO-LLUSION

Andrew Alexander Price

I try not to talk about the environment very much, because there are a lot of environmentalists out there already. But, a few month ago we had an engineer come to our city. He was discussing environmentally friendly design, and he showed us a photo of a parking lot; He was talking about how ‘green’ it was – how the breathable asphalt does not disturb the drainage of rainwater and how it incorporated natural foliage that would filter the runoff. 

I sat there and watched blankly.  Read On…

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How To Make Billions While Making People Happy and Saving the Planet

Nathan Lewis – New World Economics originally in Forbes

The first criticisms of the American automobile suburb began about the same time as the suburbs themselves appeared in the 1920s and expanded in the postwar period. “There’s no there there,” lamented Gertrude Stein about Oakland, California, in 1937. She would know — she grew up there.

But, if we aren’t going to build suburbs, what should we build? Read On….

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The Eco-Technic Civilization

Nathan Lewis – New World Economics

The notion of an “eco-technic civilization” is popular these days. It is a good alternative to the “retro-eco” idea which is everywhere today — that to be in harmony with the earth, one should live in some sort of 19th century fashion. Actually, people in the 19th century were not particularly environmentally aware at all. They scoured the oceans for whales so they could light oil lamps, and deforested much of the North American continent before coal became cheaper than wood. Isn’t a solar-powered LED light better than that? Wouldn’t you rather cook on a modern gas stove (could be from renewable sources, including wood gas, or ethanol) rather than on a primitive wood stove? Team retro-eco then goes farther back in their wayback machine, to perhaps the preindustrial 18th century, or Native American primitivism. One problem with this is that it won’t support large populations. The estimated population of the world in 1750 was 791 million people, about 11% of today’s number.

Can’t we keep the best parts of today’s civilization, but fix the bad parts? Is this such a bad idea? Of course, it’s a good idea. Alas, Team Techno-Eco today is usually pretty stupid too.  Read On……

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Six Principles of Sustainability (a work in progress)

1. Build compact cities in which all destinations are within convenient walking distance. Prohibit motor vehicles within the city.

2. Surround the city with garden plots for each household, within convenient walking distance, of a size sufficient to raise a significant amount of food.

3. Construct the city of attached, durable and fire resistant buildings, no taller than a walkable height, fronting on narrow streets, with arcaded sidewalks.

4. Arrange buildings to create small plazas for public space and to create interior courtyards for private and semi-private space.

5. Return all water, after biological purification, to the source of origin or aquifer. Remove all organic waste, including human waste, to the garden plots surrounding the city.

6. In governance, practice subsidiarity, whereby a matter is “handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized authority capable of addressing it”.

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A Traditional City Primer

Andrew Alexander Price

I have been called a quack – criticised for promoting the Traditional City as a cure-all for many of today’s urban ailments (declining small businesses, obesity, social mobility and equality, reducing our cost of living, cutting down on our oil dependency, among others such as the general dullness of suburbia) often by people that do not truely understand what the traditional city is. Read On…..

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Life Without Cars: 2013 Edition

by Nathan Lewis

Every year about this time, we pause and take a little time to imagine what life could be like without cars. For five thousand years of human urban civilization, people didn’t have cars. Their cities reflected this: they were made for walking, mostly, and some wagon traffic. Of course, we don’t need to use oxcarts today. We can move cargo with motorized trucks. But, we can still design our cities to walk around in, rather than to drive around in, as we have in Suburban Hell for roughly a century. Read On….. 

 

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Optimizing the Street Grid

by Andrew Alexander Price

Does block size and street grid really matter? Read on…

 

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The Triad of City Design Failure

by Nathan Lewis – New World Economics

One thing you start thinking about, when you understand what I am talking about regarding the Traditional City, is: why don’t people get it

I think this is, at least in part, because people go round and round what we will call today the Triad of City Design Failure. The triad is:
The 19th Century Hypertrophic City (today called “New Urbanism”)

The 20th Century Hypertrophic City

Suburban Hell

Read on….

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Paving Our Streets

Andrew Alexander Price

One of the things I like to do on my blog is to point out a modern norn that does not make much sense to me, yet we grew up with it, and take it for granted, that we rarely question it. In this blog post, I am focusing on paving our streets. Often we spend a lot of money paving and maintaining our streets, just to accommodate cars. I am not advocating that we should not pave our streets, I am just questioning why. Read On…

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Small Lots and the Evolution of the City

from the Planner Dan blog

 

Today, we tend to think of small lots as unusable scraps; nuisances which stand in the way of good development. Many redevelopment efforts focus on the assembly of these lots into workable development sites. The small, wasteful buildings can then be swept away to make room for efficient development. Read on….

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