Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, Ray Bradbury, died yesterday at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy of best-selling Science Fiction Novels, including Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, that transcended genre and spoke to our very real human experiences.
However, you are probably not aware of his passion for rethinking and reviving the American City. In 1993, Bradbury wrote a book of essays, “Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures,” including a chapter on Urban Planning, and later wrote an article titled “The Aesthetics of Lostness,” praising European cities you can get lost in. Bradbury has been quoted as saying: “When I deal with urban problems I ask: What is a city? What is the mystery of the city? What is fun about a really good city?”
Read More about the late Ray Bradbury and his views on Architecture, after the break…
Good questions, all. And his answer? Well, food. Bradbury was an advocate for lively, bustling cities (filled with restaurants and cafés) where people can go to eat, socialize, and enjoy their surroundings – without the need for a car. In an interview with Rob Couteau, Bradbury put it this way:
“to give people back their feet, to give back their freedom, should be the job of the cities, except they don’t know how to do it, and we science-fiction writers know. [...] restaurants are the secret of cities. People want to eat. [...] They think they’re going out to shop, but, really, they’re going out to eat. And once you do that, the whole soul is aerated. Your ambience changes. And walking around Paris, gee, you turn any corner, there are seven restaurants. And little shops. And millions of people on the street every night.”
In fact, later in the Coutreau interview, Bradbury admits that his love for cities is actually intrinsically tied with his love of Science Fiction:
“We love science fiction because it’s architectural. All the big science-fiction films of the last twenty years are architectural. 2001, when you see the rocket ship flying through the air, it’s a city; it’s a big city up there. And in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when the mother ship descends, it’s not a ship; it’s a city. It’s so beautiful. And when the aliens come out of the ship, you want to go back in with them and go away forever.”
For Bradbury, Architecture itself is a kind of Science Fiction, which he described as “the art of the possible, not the art of the impossible.” As we remember his legacy, we would be wise to remember his words, and remember the great role imagination will play in making our future cities realities.
You can find Couteau’s interview, in its entirety, here.