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System of Structuring Cities and Understanding Interactions between Individual Components within Sets - Essay Example

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Systems of Structuring Cities and Understanding Interactions between Individual Components within Sets The modern city is one of the most complex things that have been created in all of human history. If one examines a city like Tokyo, Manhattan or London, they have an intricacy that is nearly impossible to understand, yet it is an architect’s job…
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System of Structuring Cities and Understanding Interactions between Individual Components within Sets
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"System of Structuring Cities and Understanding Interactions between Individual Components within Sets"

Download file to see previous pages Jane Jacobs illustrates this point most clearly in her chapter in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “Uses of Sidewalks: Safety.” In this chapter, Jacobs attempts to analyze the ways in which sidewalks serve as a safety network for various cities. They do this in several ways, from the most basic, elevating and separating pedestrians from bikes and cars which could be dangerous to them, to much more complex systems. It is incredibly important, however, that Jacobs recognizes that the sidewalks in and of themselves do very little to create or destroy a safe environment. Jacobs indicates that people are not merely “passive beneficiaries of safety or helpless victims of danger” on sidewalks (30), but rather, everyone who participates in the interactions involved on sidewalks, from people in houses and businesses bordering the sidewalk, to the cars bordering the other side, to the pedestrians actually on the sidewalk, all have an important part to play in keeping these sidewalks safe. She then identifies the human factors that help to keep a feeling of safety or un-safety on sidewalks. Things like high turnover of housing, little community feeling and empty streets with occasional traffic but easy access all lead to feeling (and reality) of un-safety – people are not likely to intervene on each other’s behalf and there is not a high enough mass of people and inter-person respect to provide a feeling of safety. But Jacobs is quick to point out that this safety is not merely a reflection of population density, because if it was, Los Angeles, which is nearly entirely suburban, would have a low rather than high crime rate (32). She also makes it very clear that police cannot solve this problem, and that in fact places with high police presence tend to be the most dangerous – police cannot solve the problems of unsafe cities (31). So to Jacobs the problems of creating safety in cities must rest with people – how to create public spaces in streets and sidewalks that discourage feelings of un-safety while encouraging feelings of community that create a safer environment for everyone. The idea of people being the fundamental unit of architecture appears in the works of Christopher Alexander and Le Corbusier as well, though they take almost opposite tracks to understanding how to fascilitate people’s use of cities. Both recognize very clearly that the living, breathing city is created by people – not the physical spaces, but the people that inhabit them. Alexander takes a natural view of cities, using semilattice and set theory to describe the ways a cities parts interact, through people. He strongly dislikes artificial cities, saying that there is something necessarily missing from them, and that artificial cities tend to create a “tree” system, where each component is only interrelated to each other through its connection to the whole (80). Each leaf is only connected to each other leaf because they are connected to the tree – not because they have any particular relationship to each other. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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