Density has long been an essential consideration for architects and urban planners, yet its importance has only increased as the world’s urban population skyrockets and cities become denser and denser. For much of the history of urban planning, this term has been plagued with negative associations: overcrowding, poverty, lack of safety, and so-called ‘slums.’ The garden city movement, initiated by Ebenezer Howard in 1898, sought to remedy these ills by advocating for greenbelts and anti-density planning. Le Corbusier’s Radiant City is one of the most well-known urban plans building from these ideals. Yet in the 1960’s, sociologist Jane Jacobs famously overturned these long influential urban planning concepts: she pointed out that density of buildings was not identical to overcrowding of people; suggested that some highly dense urban areas, like her neighborhood in Greenwich Village, were safer and more attractive than nearby garden city projects; and highlighted how America’s conception of ‘slums’ were often rooted in anti-immigrant and anti-Black ideologies. Density is not inherently bad, she suggested, but it has to be done well. Today, we continue to grapple with the question of how to design for our increasingly dense cities – how do we keep them open, but simultaneously private? Free, but controlled when necessary? In particular, how do we keep them safe – both from crime and, in the age of COVID-19, disease?
Three years ago, in the wake of the release of his book Theories and History of the Modern City ("Teorías e Historia de la Ciudad Contemporánea", 2016, Editorial Gustavo Gili), we sat down with the author, Carlos García Vázquez, to discuss this complex and "uncertain creature' that is the modern city, focusing on the three categories that define cities today: Metropolis, Megalopolis, and Metapolis.
“We need a new spatial contract." This is the call of Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Venice Biennale 2021, as an invitation for architects to imagine new spaces in which we can live together. Between a move towards urban flight and global housing crises, the growth of more low-rise, dense developments may provide an answer in the countryside. Turning away from single family homes in rural areas and suburbs, modern housing projects are exploring new models of shared living in nature.
Our cities, vulnerable by nature and design, have generated the biggest challenge that humankind has to face. With the vast majority of the population expected to settle in urban agglomerations, rapid urbanization is going to raise the issue of adaptability with future social, environmental, technological and economic transformations.
By 2025, Frost and Sullivan, a market research company, has predicted that there will be at least 26 fully-fledged major smart cities around the world. While some still think that as our cities get more intelligent, they will resemble sci-fi futuristic movies, the reality is that the quality of life in these cities will drastically improve. Cities are set to become more efficient with better services. Nevertheless, before reaching these ideals, let us go back on the process itself, and evaluate the challenges that we might face.
Metropolis catches up with the High Line Network, a consortium of North American reuse projects that has been sharing notes and best practices through the pandemic.
What would all the built environments be without its users? This question may make it easier to understand that not only do architecture and urbanism sustain themselves as physical spaces, but they also gain meaning mainly through the human and non-human movements and bonds, that - together with the architectural or spontaneous traces that make up the urban landscape - provoke the sensations that each individual feels in a unique way.
Feeling free and safe in the city. How many times have we felt fully free when walking through our neighbourhood, when returning home, when sitting in the park? Some urban spaces give us more autonomy than others. Some areas seem more comfortable and calm. But, to keep that calm, to what extent do we express ourselves and to what extent do we hold back? What safeguards do we take to feel as good as possible when inhabiting our environment?
India is rethinking the future of housing through new typologies. Defined by historical and cultural influences, the country's contemporary architecture centers on discussions of how best to modernize. Built over millennia, India's housing projects are made to address diverse scales, programs and functions. Exploring a revitalized urban landscape, these modern housing projects have begun to set a new tone for the future.
Moving away from its early exclusive focus on natural disasters, resilient architecture and design tackles the much tougher challenge of helping ecosystems regenerate.
Hashim Sarkis, the curator of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia, launched a striking visionary theme at the beginning of this year: “How will we live together?”. This fundamental question finally transcends all disciplines and opens an existential portal for humanity. It does not refer only to humans but all species, the nonhuman organisms as well.
Today the President of La Biennale di Venezia Paolo Baratta and the appointed Curator of the 17th International Exhibition Hashim Sarkis introduced the theme of the next year’s event “How will we live together?”. La Biennale Architettura 2020 will take place at Venice’s Giardini and Arsenale from May 23 to November 29, 2020.