“A city built for speed is a city built for success.” This phrase is attributed to Le Corbusierone of the most influential urban planners of the twentieth century, summarizing one of the most important social processes of the period.
Mobility is a central aspect of the formation of the social fabric. Professor of Sociology at the University of Seville Eduardo BriquetEvery form of society involves a system of locomotion. Therefore, its transformations assume anthropological changes of enormous importance.
The author classified the current era as a nomadic life. Majority of people live in fixed houses with a sedentary lifestyle. But our lives are in constant motion. It is not exclusively a matter of quantity, but also of time and distance. This is where technological advances, specifically the automobile, come into play.
Its popularization has allowed something unnatural in human history: to travel great distances in a very short time. This significantly expands our living space. We can be in multiple places in one day—places that are fundamentally different from each other—which means that the number of social interactions we have each day doubles. But also, by necessity, most of them are ephemeral. specially Blessings The sedentary nomadic lifestyle relies on fleeting social contact.
speed and distance
And this is due to the speed, the one that Le Corbusier linked to success. This was the sign of his era. More and more people are living in cities and they are getting bigger. Traveling in its growing expanse requires some infrastructure, especially roads. The city was old. Its irregular layout and narrow streets weren’t functional, and it had to adjust to speed. The Voisin Plan of 1925 fit into this cultural framework.
The aim of this urban project was to destroy the center of Paris and replace it with the buildings shown in the picture. The name comes from Gabriel Voisin, a vehicle and aircraft manufacturer that sponsored the project. The urban fabric was made up of cross-shaped towers and, as can be seen, was ideal for the circulation of private vehicles: straight and with wide spaces between buildings to build sufficiently wide boulevards.
Barcelona also had a similar project, Plan Macià, from 1934, in which he was directly involved Le Corbusier. His name was because Francesc Maciaat that time President of the Generalitat, which indicates the importance given to it at that time.
Neither plan was finally implemented. However, the ideas that shaped it continue to be successful to this day.
highways outside the United States
The construction of urban highways in the United States is a good example of this. According to the US Department of Transportation, from 1957 to 1977, more than a million people were displaced from their homes for this reason. Most highways cut through populated neighborhoods, splitting them in two, and eliminating much of their commerce, with profound negative consequences for their social fabric as well.
The purpose of these highways was precisely to connect the suburbs that at that time dotted the country. On many occasions, these neighborhoods excluded black residents, reinforcing de facto racial segregation. It is what has been classified as the “white flight”.
In fact, the nomadic settlement theory was put into practice. Neighborhoods with intense social and community life were sacrificed in the name of speed, necessary to move between increasingly dispersed urban centers with increasingly individual lives. The urban fabric in the suburbs contributed to the recent decline in population density, which consists of long rows of single-family chalets.
Jacobs ideas vs. Moses
The famous battle between Jane Jacobs And Robert Moses It perfectly captures the struggles resulting from the social changes derived from this new mobility paradigm.
Jacobs, an activist and one of the most influential urban planners of the last century, along with her neighborhood, opposed the construction of a freeway that would cross her Manhattan neighborhood: Greenwich Village. This construction has been planned before Musaa high-ranking New York State official with great power in public works, in 1955. Thanks to neighborhood struggles, the highway was not finally built, though there were many others.
JacobsAs an intellectual he championed a complex and diverse city with mixed land uses. He suggested that housing, commerce, and work share space in neighborhoods, and that there is sufficient intensity of social life to emerge in public space, necessary for the development of community social communication.
This was the ideological engine of his fight against him Musa – Of course, they also prevented the destruction of the village. He firmly believed that the city built around the car would put an end to everything.
The present is far and the future?
On the other hand, the ideas that were mostly imposed all over the world – in reactions to technological shifts in the field of transportation – were the ideas of people like Le Corbusier also Musa. The cities from which they emerged during the 20th century were designed around the speed of travel, and thus of the private vehicle. But its very design made it more and more necessary in an endless loop of feedback. Cities are thinner, less dense, and more dispersed, divided into regions according to their function, with homes, work, and leisure increasingly spaced out.
Already in the middle of the 21st century, is it possible for the mobility pendulum to return? There are more and more voices calling for cities to move towards local mobility. To meet our vital needs in our immediate environment. The urgency of climate change demands it, because the private car is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases.
But this claim also arises from the social drive to restore community bonds, care and mutual support. This in which the individuality of the sedentary nomadic lifestyle has been weakened for decades.
Source: The Conversation
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