Friday, June 16, 2017

Urban planning revisited

Simon Jenkins' take on the Grenfell first sounds a bit extreme...: 
How many times should we say it? Don’t build residential towers. Don’t make or let people live in them, least of all families. They are antisocial, high-maintenance, disempowering, unnecessary, mostly ugly, and they can never be truly safe. No tower is fireproof. No fire engine can reach up 20 storeys, period.

Towers are again raising their heads across the urban landscape, creatures of egotistical architects, greedy developers and priapic mayors. We gasp at their magnificence, their extravagance, their sheer height. Yet like Grenfell they are alien creatures in a British city. They do not converse with their context, they thumb their noses at it.
...but he has a point, at least when it comes to government funded housing for the relatively poor.

I've heard it said elsewhere recently, but high rise is not necessary for high density:
Hence the most “crowded” parts of London are not around towers but in eight-storey Victorian terraces. The boulevards of central Paris have treble London’s residential density without towers. Westminster council’s aborted Paddington Pole, at some 60 storeys, had fewer housing units than the high-density street housing suggested by its opponents. The tall blocks wanted by Boris Johnson for Clerkenwell’s Mount Pleasant estate are at a lower density than the low-rise town houses proposed by the consultants Create Streets.
And, I am also reminded of Kevin McCloud's 2010 documentary on lessons to be learnt about high density living from the Mumbai slums.   And also, how Japan manages to cram in extremely high density but with most residential blocks of relatively limited height. 

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