In my effort to get my ideas out I have created blog posts over time and morphed them into short Kindle books that sell for a few dollars and have the merit of introducing notions that may be far from the thinking of most readers. I naturally hope they become more common. This blog has the merit of getting indexed on search engines so it is possible that some may be led here, The book itself need cost nothing if one has a Kindle and belongs to Amazon Select. I believe it can also be borrowed which in fact reimburses the author more than a royalty would. The main point is to underline my main thesis. That we are engaged in a global struggle to defeat sprawl and the car as the default means of transportation. I am not holding my breath. You would be amazed at the progress this idea has made in the last 50 years.
eBay is significant as a large Web business and all such businesses have a stake in viable partnerships related to China. Two of the posts below reference that. The third is in the spirit of Mildred Purse which speaks for itself.
Gadgets, escapism and the macro world is a triad of significance.
I think it must be a stage and the younger generation – the ones who will be adults around 2020 or so – will want to apply what we know of reality from gadgets to the macro world of social organization, buildings and efficiency.
This is the disconnect addressed in the following brief posts:
John Boehner must be an archetype. Amazing that such realities come into being. Here are three contemplations of the Leader.
Christopher Alexander starts his book A Pattern Language with Independent Regions, which is a blanket term for an area with a general boundary, large enough to incorporate all of the subsequent patterns right down to your personal stuff. These notes are an effort to converse with Alexander’s great work, published 31 years ago.
Times have changed and we have at least some possibility now of injecting Alexander’s concerns into the debate about a post-oil society, a debate that will be beginning during the Obama Era.
Here are the posts in this series to date:
And here is the online version of Alexander’s Pattern Language — a hypertext outline that is your best introduction to this wonderful book. Each of these posts deals with a cluster of patterns.
Here is today’s cluster:
Both in the neighborhoods and the communities, and in between them, in the boundaries, encourage the formation of local centers.
Eccentric Nucleus Density Rings Activity Nodes Promenade Shopping Street Night Life Interchange
Eccentric Nucleus (May be part of Four-Story Limit , Magic of the City , Community of 7000, Subculture Boundary)
Alexander says: “The random character of local densities confuses the identity of our communities, and also creates a chaos in the pattern of land use.”
The rules Alexander proposes to remedy this can be read at the link above. My own belief is that the communities of 7,000 that he assumes will be gathered in enclosed areas where there are no cars. Therefore they will have a reasonably uniform density and there will be space between these nodes or settlements or towns.
Density Rings (May be part of Eccentric Nucleus, Mosaic of Subcultures, Community of 7000 )
This deals with the need to integrate all elements of a community, residence, shopping, etc. My suggestion is that residences form the perimeter of the car-free settlements, in part so they have an exterior view and in part so that some provision can be made for vehicles that continue to be privately owned. Instead of the two car garage, the exterior space, perhaps under the matrix, for a vehicle, bikes, whatever. I would lard the residential ring with small commercial establishment like convenience stores. cafes, and internet nodes. I might have another ring of facing residences for those with no vehicles. I would devote the center to open spaces and also to the larger concerns needed to complete a proper town, entertainment, sports, work nodes, services.
Activity Nodes (May be part of Identifiable Neighbourhood , Network of Paths and Cars, Eccentric Nucleus, Subculture Boundary), Promenade)
Alexander says, “Community facilities scattered individually through the city do nothing for the life of the city.”
His solution: “Create nodes of activity throughout the community, spread about 300 yards apart. First identify those existing spots in the community where action seems to concentrate itself. Then modify the layout of the paths in the community to bring as many of them through these spots as possible. This makes each spot function as a “node” in the path network. Then, at the center of each node, make a small public square, and surround it with a combination of community facilities and shops which are mutually supportive.”
I fully agree that this concept should be applied but this can only happen in a car-free, that is to say vehicular traffic free area. The draconian premise of my version of pattern language is that we can economically create the cities of the future by creating residential-commercial-cultural cells or towns which ate vehicle free. Populations of around 7,000 can be contained within a space that is less than a mile in diameter, with plenty of room for these nodes. They can be built on levels of no more than a cumulative four stories above ground. They can be varied in design and each have their own distinctive character. Without a decision to go vehicle-free we have no basis for creating a plan that will eventually work. Will this happen all at once, by fiat? Of course not. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will have to gather the billions needed to build an ecomatrix that will handle all elements of recycling and energy creation and flll it with a livable environment that is based on the ideal of Alexander and others. It is a seismic shift and will only happen when we accept the basic vehicle-free, scale-that-enables-ecosanity premise.
Promenade (May be part of Mosaic of Subcultures, Community of 7000, Activity Nodes)
Alexander says: “Each subculture needs a center for its public life: a place where you can go to see people, and to be seen.”
Yes. I generally envision that the residential perimeters will be accessed by a spiral graded sort of walkway that moves from the base to the top — a four-story easy grade. At various levels internal to the perimeter excitement would be ensured by the creation of “squares” just as exist in Rome or Paris of on Capri.
Shopping Street (May be part of Magic of the City, Promenade, Web of Shopping)
Alexander says: Shopping centers depend on access: they need locations near major traffic arteries. However, the shoppers them selves don’t benefit from traffic: they need quiet, comfort, and convenience, and access from the pedestrian paths in the surrounding area.”
By eliminating vehicular traffic we create the possibility of an entirely new shopping pattern. The need for delivery of larger items would be handled not by having the items in the shops, but by having samples or guided access to online presentations that would lead to deliveries rather than carrying things off in a car. Many large ticket items would no longer be needed as dwellings would be designed to largely incorporate what we now think of as furniture, By standardizing “rooms” and making them somewhat like Lego elements, modular, one could select (order) rooms with the frameworks for sleeping, sitting and so forth. Home repair would be vastly diminished.
Night Life (May be part of Magic of the City, Community of 7000 , Promenade)
Says Alexander: “Most of the city’s activities close down at night; those which stay open won’t do much for the night life of the city unless they are together.
In the nodes or towns I envision, Alexander’s concern would be met by the existence of a 24/7 culture that could extend from internet cafes and eating places to entertainment and other public facilities.
Interchange (May be part of Web of Public Transportation , Local Transport Areas)
Alexander says: “Interchanges play a central role in public transportation. Unless the interchanges are working properly, the public transportation system will not be able to sustain itself.”
I solve the interchange problem by basically eliminating the need for them, at least in the nodes where people live car-free. Outside of these areas it is not at al clear that the future will require the sort of interchanges than now exist. The fundamental network for transportation between car free nodes or towns would likely be light rail or even pneumatic trains or people movers. Transportation to the the cities as we presently know them and across country would be by a combination of vehicles using the current interstate and rail network.
More on Pattern Language:
See the brief at https://stephencrose.wordpress.com/pattern-language/ and then read in sequence:
Welcome to this sequential introduction to Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language. I am following the online pattern language summary which can be accessed by clicking the link immediately below.
Each of these posts takes a cluster of patterns and seeks briefly to offer a context for these in terms of a situation that has changed since the initial book was created in the 1970s. All of the posts in this series are reachable from the link below.
Connect communities to one another by encouraging the growth of networks.
Web of Public Transportation Ring Roads Network of Learning Web of Shopping Mini-Buses
Web of Public Transportation (May be part of City Country Fingers, Local Transport Areas)
Alexander notes the melange of ill-connected public tranit, each run by different agencies. His sensible proposal is to treat interchanges as the first priority and transportation lines as secondary. This would end up linking all transport lines. He believes this can be achieved by a form of local control that would give contracts only to transporters who would serve their interchanges. I am tempted to say, dream on. There is no area of design more dependent on a hierarchy of power which has, for a century, been dominated by the private automobile and the need to build highways and interstates that have no interest whatsoever in any sort of human community,
What I am seeking to propose, building on the salient work of Alexander, is a cell or node or town unit of human settlement, as yet not built, nonexistent. This unit of possible 5-10,000 persons would have no private cars within its center and its center would include its perimeter. It would be units in a circle or oval or rectangle or square or other pattern where any private vehicles would be accessible only on leaving the space. Over time the transit between such communities would be achieved by such means as the underground trains that we associate with the US senate. Or via pneumatic devices. Or by bike or light rail or mini-buses or vehicles as yet uninvented.
In effect the transit issue would be removed from the immediate area where people live and work and have their being, because the explicit rule would be that this is a post-automobile culture.
Ring Roads (May be part of Local Transport Areas, Interchange, Web of Public Transportation)
Alexander says, “It is not possible to avoid the need for high speed roads in modern society; but it is essential to place them and build them in such a way that they do not destroy communities or countryside.”
Yes and no. It is possible to limit the dominance of high speed roads by first accepting the basic idea that new human settlements should be largely pedestrian. And secondly that they should eventually be linked by means other than highways.
In essence highways would become less and less the thorougfares needed to move people and goods about. Their rights of ways, however, belong to us. And this means that we could develop all manner of uses for this space, including transport uses based on advanced technology, new vehicles and so forth.
Network of Learning
Here you can see Alexander struggling with the issue of schooling or learning. He says: “Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed place, work in piecemeal ways to decentralise the process of learning and enrich it through contact with many places and people…” In essence my proposed cell, town, human settlement plan would make this likely by establishing small areas where students could walk from home to the areas and have one to one contact both with a live adult and with a massive range of Web enabled educational resources. The entire settlement would contain the educational diversity Alexander calls for.
(Note, always read the original at the links above to see exactly where I am departing from Alexander and the full text of what Alexander is suggesting.)
Web of Shopping (May be part of Mosaic of Subcultures, Subculture Boundary , Scattered Work, Local Transport Areas)
Says Alexander: “Shops rarely place themselves in those positions which best serve the people’s needs, and also guarantee their own stability.” The best way to accomplish viable commerce within communities is to have areas where clusters of shops and services meet people’s needs without competing directly. Since there would be several such clusters in a community of 5-10,000 to ensure choices among estatlishments in the same category. There would also be a radical increase in Web access to products and services that could be delivered. Many shops could be essentially ordering spots where one would be assisted in finding and securing the best products. As settlements multiplied there would be a plethora of shopping options integrated into the fabric of residence, culture, sports, cafes and so forth.
Mini-Buses (May be part of Web of Public Transportation, Local Transport Areas)
Alexander: “Public transportation must be able to take people from any point to any other point with the metropolitan area.
“Establish a system of small taxi-like buses, carrying up to six people each, radio-controlled, on call by telephone, able to provide point-to-point service according to the passengers’ needs, and supplemented by a computer system which guarantees minimum detours and minimum wait times. Make bus stops for the mini-buses every 600 feet in each direction and equip these bus stops with a phone for dialling a bus.”
In my plan these would be located outside the perimeter of the settlement. It is also possible that people-movers would function between adjacent settlements and essentially link all such settlements. We are talking about eliminating much of the time presently taken up with commuting and diminishing the present clogging of arteries aka roads.
More on Pattern Language:
See the brief at https://stephencrose.wordpress.com/pattern-language/ and then read in sequence: