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It is vital that we start designing new cities that will carry us into the future and belong to everybody. We do not need more urban settlements that are pre-owned by a few individuals…
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POLITICAL SCIENCE Michael A. Cohen, “Reinventing the Future: Designing Urban 3.0,” Harvard International Review (Summer ): 52-57.
Thesis: 21st century cities are unsustainable, wasteful, and designed on short-term basis. It is vital that we start designing new cities that will carry us into the future and belong to everybody. We do not need more urban settlements that are pre-owned by a few individuals before they are designed. In addition, we do not need more cities that support the ever-expanding gap between the rich and the poor. The sight of slums fighting for space with concrete jungles should be a thing of the past.
Argument: Our cities are becoming more and more divided as we continue to modernize. Modernization is a positive step forward, but what about what we leave behind? Building new, technologically-advanced and expensive cities cannot alleviate poverty or reduce the income gap that is expanding every year. According to Cohen, large cities like Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Bangkok follow the unsustainable blueprint of grander projects at the expense of equity. Cohen (55) argues that growing cosmopolitan jungles like Delhi are also joining the fray by ignoring the poor and giving more power to the privileged. Cohen cites sources that highlight poor sanitation, health, housing and unemployment are the undercurrents that define 21st century cities. Sadly, these same issues were present in 19th and 20th century cities, but we have chosen to continue the trend instead of stopping it. Which begs the question, how long will we keep it going? How long do we think the poor can continue watching opportunities being given to the rich? A solution is needed; urgently.
Results: Cohen argues that the events of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and Cabalgata de los Indignados show that we are sitting on a time bomb that will destroy everybody; the rich and the poor. As much as these events were politically motivated, social conditions played a huge role in their occurrence. The fact that they took place in major cities of those countries is another reason to worry. For example, why did the Occupy Wall Street protesters not go to Denver or Washington? The answer is because New York has enough frustrated people to sustain such a drive. We need to start designing urban 3.0, the cities that will gradually do away with the inequalities inherent in our current white elephants. Cohen’s analysis and arguments are based on past experiences and credible sources that support his claims. According to Cohen, this is not to say that urban 3.0 will solve all our problems, but it will reduce them significantly. It is all a matter of good planning and integrative participation. Key points:
a) Cohen states on page 55 that cities must be more dynamic and people-oriented, rather than continue the legacy of past cities with an insatiable craving for concrete.
b) According to Cohen (55), cities have to be more resilient, innovative and balanced.
c) Urban 3.0 is a blueprint of innovation and sustainability; something we have not had before.
d) We need to build denser – not sprawling – cities to accommodate more people.
e) On page 56, Cohen states that we need a more integrated and better understanding of scale.
f) Cohen notes that Urban 3.0 should be operational by 2016 or else it will become just another dream.
g) Cohen notes, on page 56, that successful reinvention requires public debate between opposing opinions.
h) The role of the international community must be assessed to make reinvention realistic.
i) On page 57, Cohen notes that we must pay special attention to neglected and excluded groups, practice gender sensitivity and believe in the intelligence and creativity of individuals.
Conclusion: Cohen successfully presented and supported the need for a new global urban design: urban 3.0
Cohen, Michael. "Reinventing the Future: Designing Urban 3.0." Harvard International Review 34, no. 1 (2012): 52-57. Read More
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