Tag Archives: Community

Leon Krier’s lesson in architecture

Review of The Architecture of Community – Léon Krier (2009), Island Press

The Amazon Santa visited me this year and left Léon Krier’s latest, and likely ultimate, publication, The Architecture of Community. (Thanks to those who made generous purchases on the Emergent Urbanism Amazon Store, remember that you can also purchase anything at all.)

Back in the 1970’s when architectural modernism began to fall apart or be outright demolished, the architectural intelligentsia decided that it was okay to start using ornament again, to make buildings flashy, to take the dry structures of modern buildings and decorate them with absurd icons whose purpose was to entertain long enough that no one would notice that the architecture was still terrible. Léon Krier, a renegade amongst renegades who had no formal architectural education, had an other idea in mind: that there was such a thing as objective laws in architecture, that these laws remained unchanged over time, and that classicism was the best expression of these laws. Any other architect’s career would be destroyed by such a claim in such an era – Léon Krier just kept going, publishing article after article, book after book, until the estate of the Prince of Wales gave him his big break and commissioned the design of an entire neighborhood based upon his ideas. If there is a neo-traditionalist movement in architecture and urban design today, it is because Léon Krier imagined it first. This book is the compilation of the product of his career as an architect, but mostly as a writer.

Having read through the book, my conclusion is that Krier gives a thorough lesson in architecture, taking obvious pleasure is shredding the myths of modernism to pieces and exposing its false prophecies. However, the text never goes beyond the most superficially descriptive, often involving comparisons and an appeal to common sense. While Krier can point out, using his trademark caricatures, how absurd the patterns of modern sprawl are, he has no explanation as to why such patterns would exist, except that it may be just one big conspiracy. He has even less to say about community, which is strange considering the word is in the title. It is as if in the vocabulary of neo-traditional architects community and space have become synonymous. (Many of the great villages and towns of Europe are dying because their community is dying, regardless of their physical form.) For this reason Krier produces a very sharp lesson in architecture, but provides no insight into morphology, and cannot really develop a model of urbanism that isn’t simply architecture at enormous scale. It should be no surprise that his disciples have practiced town planning the same way.

Despite his claims of providing a plan for the post-fossil fuel age, his projects require enormous concentrations of capital to develop, the kind of capital only princes have at their disposal, and provide no guarantee of ever being home to a true community. Although he demonstrates a sensibility, if not necessarily an understanding, for chaos theory and complexity, I am left wondering if he refers to it because he finds it convenient, or because it is true. He points out that fractal geometry has denied modernism the use of abstract forms as more rational geometric objects, and many of his drawings could be used as perfect examples of complex geometry. It is however not explained why anything is depicted the way it is, or how it could be the way it is. Architectural complexity is embraced, but the leap to emergence, crucial for any practical model of urbanism, is not there.

Most of the book consists of sketches, pictures and small essays whose intent is to persuade instead of to argue, and there lies the most peculiar thing about it. It is in precisely the same format that Le Corbusier once published his works of pioneering architectural propaganda. It is as if Krier sought to turn the very arms of modernism against it, to fight evil with evil with a classical counter-propaganda. Krier knows the power that architecture can wield – his monograph on the architecture of Albert Speer (Albert Speer: Architecture, 1932-1942) remains one of the most frightening architectural books I’ve yet seen, if there can be such a thing as a frightening architecture. He exposed fascism in all of its most seductive displays, at once explaining how the movement could wield power over so many followers, and why there would be a ban against classical architecture itself in the aftermath of the war. One could read hundreds of post-war philosophers without ever arriving at such a realization. Krier believes that classical architecture is a powerful cultural force that can also be used for good, that it is absurd to deny ourself this force because it was used to evil ends, and concludes as such his review of Speer. There is nothing so epic in this new book, although Krier dedicates an entire chapter to a plan for Washington D.C. that would “complete” the city (a plan he also displays on the cover), which shows us where his loyalties lie. What he doesn’t seem to know is how dangerous the power of propaganda is, and how using it may be feeding the very process he wants to denounce.

Hence, the most problematic issue with this compendium of Krier’s career is the medium itself. Krier presents drawings of an architecture that is rationalized and purified, playing it safe in order to rebuild architecture on its foundations. The great eclectic architecture of the 19th century, and the early 20th, is left out. That does not demonstrate confidence in one’s belief in laws of architecture, and will not provide anything greater to a new generation of architects than an alternative propaganda that may tap some deeper feeling, but won’t give them any arguments against other fashions that violate the laws. It also won’t give them the confidence to radically apply the laws in order to invent architectural patterns that meet the needs of today’s society, whatever you want to call it. (Post-post-modern? Ultra-modern? Webbed?) Krier may not have realized that modern architecture is a product of such propaganda, the result of architecture no longer being practiced by artisans for the benefit of their local community, but by writers and graphic designers trying to come up with the flashiest image they can place in a magazine. The quality of the building is irrelevant if the magazines drive your business.

Much like the medium created modern architecture, the medium also created medieval and neo-classical architecture. The information technologies of Gothic churches were primitive, but extremely complex. Neo-classicism could use printing, and that made mass propagation of patterns possible to the extent that these patterns were translated into drawings. The revival of the laws of architecture that Léon Krier dreams of will likely need a new medium, one that is characteristic of our society, to be accepted as evident. Until that is invented, Krier has done us all a great service by destroying the temple of modernism, leaving at least a clean slate and the right principles to start over.

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Review of Radiant City

There is a scene early in the 2006 mockumentary Radiant City that provides the key explanation to the morphology of suburban sprawl. Our favorite writer James Howard Kunstler sits on a bench in a community bike trail that is enclosed in two rows of chain link fence in order to, I presume, secure it from the high-capacity arterial road that runs alongside it. The experience is vaguely what it must have been like to patrol the Berlin Wall, had it been encircled by an expressway. “Some clown in an office somewhere thought this would be a good idea, that’s why it’s here,” says Kunstler. “Not because anybody really tested whether or not it would feel good to be here.”

That’s all the film has to say about why sprawl is, and in fact there is nothing more to be said. The characteristic of a sprawl city is the absence of any intelligence in design. The rest of the movie is about how and why families cope with life in this intelligence-less environment. It does that with a narrative that is refreshingly honest and modern, despite not depicting a real family. It is shot on location in the outskirts of Calgary, a city that, thanks to a highly competent planning authority and an economic boom that has attracted large numbers of new citizens, has over the last decade built new developments at supernaturally huge scale.

The new neighborhoods are for the most part built of nice buildings, nothing to write UNESCO about but approaching genuine Victorian. Contrary to the suburban cliché, houses are built to a density that is comparable to city centers, which means there is adequate public transportation available. And in compliance with new planning regulations, developers have provided big clusters of condominium buildings to serve as “affordable housing”. With this setting, the directors have avoided the social exclusion issues that sometimes get bundled up with criticisms of the suburbs. In fact here the families explain that they left the center because it had become unaffordable for either their growing family or without shame-bearing subsidization (never mind affordable housing regulation being indirect subsidization), meaning the exclusion narrative is turned backwards. These people have been pushed out of the city.

What is there left to complain about then? Not very much, still there is a general awareness that there must be something missing, yet none of the characters can pinpoint it. They deal with boredom as best they can, the local teenagers finding, as all boys have ever done, that a muddy pit is all that’s needed for endless fun. Today’s boys turn this free space into a paintball game they call “escape to Mexico”, but it’s really just cowboys and indians for the postmodern age. Their fun is interrupted by a private security patrolmen hired by the builders to patrol the private streets, but these guards turn out to be benign bordering on benevolent. Incessant chauffeuring becomes the cause of a mini-crisis as poor husband Evan is forbidden from working on his car by his emasculating witch of a wife Anne, worried that such activities will send the car to the mechanic and leave her with the entire burden of chauffeuring the family on their maddening activities schedule.

If there is one recurring theme, it is that at every point the creative control of the environment has been taken away from individuals. The kids cannot play on empty lots, the father cannot risk working on his car, the space for any meaningful personal culture has been slashed to nearly nothing. The exception to this is Anne who gets to enjoy total control of the house itself, which she obviously takes great pleasure in when deciding how each room will be laid out.  At every point in the film where someone defends the choice of life in the suburbs it is either Anne or a female real estate agent involved.

As a form of passive-aggressive revenge, Evan signs up to be in a musical about suburban life where he and his male friends sing showtunes while dancing around with lawnmowers. (Lawnmowers having no utility in the postage-stamp sized lawns of the new suburbs, they are remembered in dance.) It is telling that Evan found out about the show by looking around the Internet. It is on the Internet that community and culture has exploded in the last years as the physical world has become more and more inaccessible. The Web 2.0 phenomenon has given the power to everyone to create something and express themselves, for better or worse. The Web has become a new city, and its different processes new forms of urbanism.

Sorely missing from the film, which features the opinions of architects, professors of philosophy and other intellectuals, are the opinions of the planners, politicians and developers who make this product. The planning system is as remote to the narrative as it is to people’s lives. While the complaint of the loss of citizenship implied by mass motorization is rehashed by an intellectual, what about the loss of citizenship implied by the planning process itself? All decisions about the shape of their environment has been taken long in the past, in the colorful words of Mr. Kunstler, by some clown in an office somewhere. The only thing left for citizens to do is to enjoy or hate their environment. They have been dispossessed of any power to shape it. Somewhere democracy of place was substituted for bureaucracy, and the best the citizens have been offered since is the chance to collectively shackle the bureaucrats through public design charrettes. The citizens have no more rights to create their city than citizens of Stalin’s Moscow did. That is the only aspect sprawl still has in common with Le Corbusier’s original vision for the Radiant City.

Yet the film does not reach this conclusion. If there is any conclusion, it is that everyone is helpless in the face of this seemingly unstoppable monster. As Joseph Heath says at the beginning, the critique of suburbia is the same it was two generations ago, everyone who lives in suburbia knows backwards and forwards the critique of suburbia, yet they still live there. Andrès Duany appears proposing that what sprawl needs is a grid and denser housing, yet the setting already has a grid and obviously the last thing it needs is even more houses.

A young woman states at the end, out of character, that she sees kids playing alone in suburbia and remembers her youth building giant forts with everybody in the neighborhood. I remember my happiest time growing up at the edge of the suburbs was building a treehouse on some leftover tree with the neighborhood kids. The treehouse was demolished because it was unsafe and then the tree cut down to build another house. I never saw any of those kids again.

That’s all community is, people making things together. That’s what creates the spiritual aspect of a place. Once we lose the freedom to do that, we can’t be citizens. We are just consumers of cities. Radiant City, by looking at life in suburban sprawl in its purest, best realized form, defines the right problem but fails to ask the right question. Perhaps citizenship is so far in the past that we can’t even remember to ask the question.

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Radiant City

A film by Gary Burns and Jim Brown

Order it from Amazon.com.

RadiantCity

The rules for changing rules

Paul Romer presents his solution to the problem of underdevelopment in this TED video.

Stanford economist Paul Romer believes in the power of ideas. He first studied how to speed up the discovery and implementation of new technologies. But to address the big problems we’ll face this century — insecurity, harm to the environment, global poverty —  new technologies will not be enough. We must also speed up the discovery and implementation of new rules, of new ideas about how people interact.

Throughout human history, big improvements in systems of rules took place when new governments entered the scene. In today’s world, this process has been largely shut down. To bring it back to life, Romer proposes that we create new cities where people can go to escape from bad rules and opt in to new and better ones. With better rules, people can be safe, self-interest can protect the environment, and investment can bring families all the resources that the modern world has to offer.

Paul Romer profile

Another, much longer presentation was made at the Long Now foundation.

As he sees it the problem of urban and economic development is not the bad rules. Most people and leaders understand that they are bad rules. The problem is that the system of government, the application of the rules, traps us in them. And so for example, if the prime minister of some derelict African state attempts to fix rules on the electrical industry, he will have to fight opposition from the many different people whose interests are affected by this change. Unless he is an all-powerful man, he is set to fail. This is a well-known problem, and the British have even turned the practice of bureaucrats manipulating politicians into doing the opposite of what they wanted to do into high comedy.

Romer says that the solution to the problem of bad rules is not to go into government but to create new governments, implying that processes of government have their own life and result in good or bad rules. While some leaders and communities may not be able to beat the system of government, they can create new ones at the margins. Romer proposes to develop, in effect, city-states all over the world where there currently is nothing, and populate them with settlers looking to build a new life.

People criticize me for proposing changes that they believe to be impossible and unrealistic. This may be true if we consider preserving the planning system to be the most important objective. And perhaps some of these people simply consider anything but the established system to be inconceivable. Even in this otherwise positive article about slums, you find a quote such as this one:

There are reasonable objections to titling. Is it fair for those who seized government land—or, worse, someone else’s private property—to be rewarded with a property title? Nor is ownership easy to disentangle. “How do you allocate titles within the dense fabric of Rocinha or Kibera?” Neuwirth writes. “Who should get title to each parcel? The family that built the house? The woman who bought it from them? The tenants who rent there? The man who owns his two-story home but sold his roof rights to a friend, who built two stories and sold his roof rights to someone to build an additional two stories?”

After praising slums for their ability to generate economic opportunities, they are denounced for not fitting into the conventional model of property rights. Yet it is precisely the use of more natural methods of property allocation that gives slums their organic morphology. I observed the same narrow-sightedness when researching my thesis on La Défense. The one defining characteristic of the project was that it was exempt from the national planning system and its rules, creating a completely open-ended area. No one working on the project could tell me that this was the reason for its success, neither did the records they kept acknowledge it. The only man who had understood this and written about it was Rem Koolhaas.

Just like we can’t make the organic morphology of slums fit into the modern rules of property ownership, we can’t make traditionally emergent cities through the current planning system. (All efforts to produce traditional neighborhoods have so far produced only imitations of them.) Romer’s charter cities offer a way out of this system, but Romer’s proposal to try out new forms of government at the scale of the city does not recognize the fractality of urban scale. It is possible to build not simply a new city out in the open wild, but a city within an existing city, at the edge or some such, thus creating a fractal of nested cities all working on a different planning system, and in this way not just serving as a comparative experiment but also benefiting from each others’ existence into one global system. I wrote before about such a patchwork of planning systems solving problems at conflicting scales.

The most characteristic feature of an emergent urbanism is that it tries to solve problems at the smallest possible scale first (in opposition to sprawl which solves problems at the regional scale). This means that an emergent city can be created at the margin of an existing sprawling metropolis, or in any pocket available within it.

The challenge then is truly to figure out the rules for changing the rules. If a spontaneous community of people can be sufficiently organized to claim an available place and declare that it is run on a different system, then by democratic principle will it be accepted, or opposed? If the political leaders of a dying city are going to abandon a part of their territory, can they concede it to a new organization, with a form of ownership that defies conventional practice? In any case, the initiative for such a measure will have to come from outside the system.

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Planning for nomads

Almost half of Americans want to live somewhere else. Even for a nation known for its exceptional mobility, the fact that people are not only moving in pursuit of employment opportunities but are looking to move simply because they hate the place they live in reveals a much deeper problem. Economic opportunity is no longer what keeps people moving, it is what keeps them immobilized. Given the same opportunity they would relocate to the kind of place where life is good. Once the economic value of a region has been fully used up, people move on. That is the lifestyle of nomads.

Americans’ feelings of nomadism express the lack of control they have over the shape of their environment. This control was long taken away (with good intentions) to a higher level, planning. Planning by governments, planning by commissions, planning by land developers and Homeowners’ Associations. Planning works, ironically, by preserving the status quo and preventing anyone unauthorized from restoring a built equilibrium. It defines what form a city is to take and locks it up under the control of boards and committees. Because they cannot make their neighborhoods their home and move the fabric of their environment, extending their roots into it, households opt for the next best choice: moving themselves somewhere that fits them more.

When people are no longer responsible for producing their community, they no longer feel any attachment to it. There is no longer any pride of ownership the way that homesteaders who built upon the land were proud of their estate. All that remains are consumers of planning who move from one product to the next as they search for a place that feels like a community. Often that means the countryside, which by grace of having small economies has never been able to support much planning.

Participatory processes, whether they are called “participatory democracy” or “charrettes”, have been the main focus of planning theory for the past decades. The idea was that if people could be involved in the decision process to define the planning of a town this would make such a place their own, but it is no less of a surrender of control, a collective plan. Once the plan has been set, there is no repealing it. Better hope that they got it perfectly right. The inverse process is much more likely to tie people to their community. A town design that is conceived in a studio somewhere far away with zero public input, but that deliberately empowers the local citizens to transform their environment upon its realization, will realize the community’s aspirations and the individual’s dream. This fact ultimately makes the notion of bottom-up versus top-down design meaningless. Who knows whether the lone inventor of an emergent design, who gathers the input of an entire community in order to build it, is running a top-down or bottom-up process?

There is a commonly accepted idea that a good growth policy is giving free reign to land speculators. Although that creates many economic opportunities for people to find work, it doesn’t create the opportunity to build a good life. It will lay the foundation for a city of nomads who pass through to consume as much as they can of the place until they have the chance to move on somewhere else. This may be a growth policy but it will never be a community development policy, unless what is being served is the community of land speculators. A good growth process makes it equally simple for any member of the community, big or small, to transform its fabric. The best growth process will make this simple while creating a beautiful place from all of these individual changes. A city that adopts such a process will not only attract economic growth but also community growth. This balance in growth is the fundamental meaning of sustainable development.

What it will take to start this process is not gymnasiums full of shouting people, but visionary leadership. Only when the top-down drives the bottom-up is a balance achieved.

Regional complexity and local community

The housing crisis afflicting Britain has reached such an intolerable level that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is announcing what amounts to a nationalization of planning regulations (report via Planetizen). This comes on the heels of the mayor of Greater London being granted the power to override planning rules of boroughs in order solve the capital’s even more outrageous housing situation, as recently as 2007. The trend towards centralization of the planning process must mean that England is suffering from too much localism. Since the glorious standoff between Robert Moses and the mothers of Greenwhich Village in the 1950’s, the local area has been considered the appropriate scale for urban planning, leading in New York City to a transfer of planning rights to community boards. This transfer has not been without its drawbacks to the city. With the reputation of Robert Moses being slowly rehabilitated the pendulum may be swinging back in the other direction.

The Paris region has struggled with the same issues, having had both its Robert Moses era and now its localism era leading to the same kind of crisis London is struggling with. Legislators and senators have lately been juggling with different schemes to solve the problem of Greater Paris, all of them more or less inspired by the Greater London Authority. (The humiliating loss to London in the bid for the 2012 Olympics having provided the evidence for the superiority of London’s model.) Localism in France is notoriously entrenched, the Ile-de-France region being divided into over 1200 communities, one third of them creating the 10,000,000 people Paris metropolis. Planning a world-class capital with 1200 mayors, all out to protect their local community and identity, has to this day been achieved by layering multiple superimposed regional authorities that have fought each other in turf wars and become a remote abstraction to the citizens they are little accountable to. When finally things achieve complete irrationality, people plead for the state to step in.

What’s unusual about this situation is that it is not the first time it has happened. It is another round in a cycle whose last peak was the post-war housing crisis that lead to the regional plan of Paul Delouvrier under special orders from then-president of France Charles de Gaulle. Going back further in history, the nomination of prefect Georges Eugène Haussmann and his restructuring plan to extend the scale of Paris was preceded by a similar urban humiliation against London. Both times public opinion turned against the regional planners a decade or two into their rule, giving way to another era of localism. In the meantime their projects, the great boulevards and the Regional Express train network, became indispensable to urban life.

Over the summer I was fortunate enough to be on the planning staff of one Delouvrier’s great projects for the Paris region, the New Town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, today a mature city. The city has since its founding been a microcosm of the regional-local conflict. From that experience I proposed a permanent solution to the cycle, and my inspiration came from fractal geometry.

The problem to be solved is to create a division of the metropolis that is simultaneously local and regional, that allows local communities to grow through their own specific urban processes while making it possible to launch and plan projects at the regional scale. The divisions have to be simple enough internally that people can easily understand how they work, thus forbidding the layering of levels of governance and bureaucracies, the territorial mille-feuilles. The closest object that describes such an organization is the Sierpinski Carpet.

The Sierpinski carpet is an object that has structure at infinite levels of scale and can therefore solve problems that occur at the biggest and smallest scales. In real-world terms, it implies that a regional community has grown around small communities and towns, each with their own separate and contrasting scale. This organization recognizes that cities happen at all scales and harmonizes them into a coherent whole. It is a fractal, perforated city.

The city of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is a clear attempt, although a failed one, to create such a perforated city. The original territory, on the outskirts of Paris just south of Versailles, was a sleepy exurban territory of one small town and a handful of villages surrounded by large farming estates, when in the late 1960’s the state launched its program of new towns. Because the farming estates were concentrated in the hands of a few large farmers the state considered them easy to acquire and develop. A state-owned developer, EPASQY, was created to develop and commercialize the new town, and a special regime of planning regulations was created around the existing town and villages, preserving the local rules within them. This territorial organization had the following form:

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The gray area was the territory controlled by the developer. The white pockets were the town of Trappes and the villages and hamlets of the area. The other significant aspect of this organization, and what eventually caused the hijacking of the New Town project, is the superposition of the communes divisions onto this structure. The commune is the basic element of local governance in France, created during the French revolution and static ever since. While the local mayors of the communes tried in vain to stop the plan, the arrival of suburban migrants from Paris into the new neighborhoods spelled the end of their community. In one fateful year every mayor was swept from office and replaced with more politically-savvy migrants from Paris who proceeded to create a new, suburban community from their office by blocking the plans of the state developer and acquiring the right to determine the programs of all further developments. What was to be a New Town of 500,000, an economic and political balance to Paris as the state designed it, was thus scaled down to what it is today, a suburban city of over 100,000 made up of 7 semi-autonomous and politically antagonistic communities struggling to solve regional problems since the dissolution of the developer.

Because the territory of the local communities extended beyond their urbanized area, the urbanization of this land by migrants from another community, that of metropolitan Paris, caused their community to disappear politically. This problem is the root of the housing crisis in London, Paris and rural England. Communities are not able to grow their territory as they expand, and smaller communities with territories much greater than they need must protect their political existence by restricting the production of new housing that will threaten their political future. If, by some accident, any one of the hundreds of communes of Paris were to remove density restrictions, the result would be the entire housing demand for the region channeled in this one community, creating a population surge followed by a new political paradigm. Mayors therefore naturally block new development, and will fight proposals such as Mr. Gordon Brown’s to overrule their community’s planning regulations. Their very survival as a political community is at stake. Had the New Town planners been able to create new political territories that preserved the local communities in the middle of their plan, both the local communities and the new regional community could have coexisted. Instead they both vanished in favor of artificial suburban communities in the fight over the area’s development.

Anyone traveling around the Paris region will be easily persuaded of the necessity of preserving local communities, some of which have had a distinct existence since before the middle ages. One historic town, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, has the claim of being the birthplace of the French kings. Other communities have not enjoyed political autonomy since Haussmann’s reforms, but continue to exist in fact. The village of Montmartre has enjoyed a special planning code within Paris’ planning system until recent year, as have the outer boroughs. These distinct processes were abolished in this decade’s revision of the planning system and a single planning system now regulates all of Paris in the hopes of simplifying the process. The drawback will be the loss of Paris’ distinct communities.

The solution to the dilemma of Greater Paris and its many communities would be to create a perforated fractal Paris, with distinct communities and their distinct planning processes existing autonomously within it. The most significant of these communities, and the one most people recognize as Paris, is the historic core of boroughs 1-12. This area has developed a tourism-centric economy that requires a planning process focused on strict preservation of the urban fabric, or as other Parisians call it, a museum-city. Beyond that circle begins metropolitan Paris, the space centered around the two ring highways, which faces entirely different challenges and community objectives.

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Historic Paris – beloved by tourists

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Metropolitan Paris – home to millions with different challenges and a different urbanism

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Village of Montmartre, an enclave within Paris

Within the regional city of Paris would exist other historic cities as well as special forms of communities, such as the business city of La Défense whose unconventional urbanism preserves the economic vitality of the region. Alongside major historic towns such as Versailles and St-Denis, the territory of Metropolitan Paris would also be perforated by a constellation of villages and perhaps some entirely artificial and experimental communities.

For the legislators tasked with drawing community boundaries, such a plan will be a nightmare. How are they expected to define thousands of communities, each with their scale, and track their growth over time? The task is impossible. They have imposed the delimitation of communes in a central plan that is every bit a form of zoning as the separation of uses, and just as limiting, because that is the limit of their ability to control communities. A fractal territorial structure of thousands of communities cannot be made by legislative act, it must be an emergent outcome of autonomous communities exchanging parts of their territory until they have achieved an equilibrium that fits all of their current situations. For this the legislators must give up defining the boundaries and instead define a process by which communities are formed and grow out of other communities.

Cities have grown upon a political blueprint that did not adapt with the communities it planned for. This created regional crises that were followed by regional blueprints and then local crises. A dynamic territorial structure would not adopt a regional or local scale but all scales at once, nested within each other. Such a territorial structure would result in institutional simplicity while resolving regional complexities in its emergent dimension. Doing so implies that legislators and governments must give up their power to plan communities, an act they will be reluctant to consider.

Interesting side-note

While New York City’s growth rarely bumped into an existing community, one case was Greenwhich Village, which today continues to be an exception in Manhattan’s otherwise strict urban grid. How strange that it would be the Greenwhich Village community that would stop Robert Moses more than a century after joining the metropolis.

Update

Another story on community conflicts appears on Planetizen, this time about an Amish community being forced by a local municipality to comply with a planning process that will destroy their community. The city demands that the Amish submit engineering plans for their buildings, but traditional buildings are not engineering projects. If they start building from an engineering plan, the form the buildings take will be completely different from their traditional form, and the building culture will die out.