Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taming the Car

Over at Planetizen Tim Halbur, Managing Editor, has this great post which is an excerpt from the architect Victor Gruen. I like this part:

To realize the abnormality of this situation, one need only try to visualize for a moment a convention of plumbers dictating to architects the entire construction industry how buildings should be designed, inside and out, in order to a) increase the employment opportunities in the plumbing fixtures industry, and b) facilitate their installation.

They would dictate that every room in every building must have a bathtub, water closet and three washstands -- otherwise unemployment in the appliance industry may result -- and that plumbing pipes of all types must no longer be forced into positions where they are hidden in walls and ceilings, but should be permitted to run any odd way, diagonally, vertically, or horizontally, through living rooms or offices. This demand would be rationalized as the facilitation of water and sewage traffic, as demanded by our era of technology. Every protest against these measures would them be ridiculed as reactionary -- or, worse, as "idealistic" -- and an attempt to turn the wheels of history backwards.

It is not hard to recognize, from this fictitious plumbing-convention story, that the traffic planners really do not behave too differently. They, too, demand as gospel the proposition that more and more automobiles should be manufactured, as otherwise the automotive appliance industry might be underemployed, and they most definitely insist that their plumbing pipes crisscross the public living rooms and working rooms of our cities. Anybody who opposes their views is characterized as either "an ivory tower planner," "a reactionary out of step with the miracles of technology," or an outright imbecile.

I think the plumber analogy works really well, but yet traffic engineers have dictated too much of how we use our landscape and that needs to fundamentally change.

1 comment:

Garden Monkey said...

This is a fantastic comparison! Thank you!