My Ideal City

The following ideas could sound a little crazy and utopic, but oh how i wish that one day they could come true.
I’ll begin with the most recent events.
New York has just been through a natural disaster like no other in history. Half of the island and its suburbs lost power because of explosions in midtown and in the main power hubs. Well, also, there was a hurricane.
The first question that came to my head was, why did half of the city lose power if the explosion was on 14th street?
The answer,  that got me thinking that this theory is not that terrible to believe in, is that we’re all connected to an infrastructure that clearly does not function the best way it could.

Flashback to Grad school.
The Project: How to “solve” the favelas in Caracas, Venezuela. There are no government services, electricity, gas, water nor drainage. The city built itself faster than the government ever could. My proposal then was to create small communities, or nucleus of no more than 20 families each. These nuclei would be self sufficient. They would grow their own vegetables on rooftops, maybe keep some farm animals, gather their own rainwater and provide energy through solar power.
At the time, it seemed to me a utopic enough idea for grad school. In Caracas, the government can’t and probably won’t be able to provide the infrastructure that it’s inhabitants need. This project tried to provide basic services in a relatively simple, idealistic way. It is easier to organize a small community rather than a larger one, and this way people would care for their surroundings with the conscience and responsibility needed to make better environments.

After the hurricane and the lack of services that we experienced, my following thought was: Would it work for larger, more modern cities as well?

Imagine that Manhattan was a cluster of small self-sufficient communities, maybe one for every block. They would produce their own vegetables on rooftops and keep some livestock. Through solar power they would generate their own electricity, gather rain water and filter it, and recycle or reuse their own waste. If a block wanted to build a higher building, with more people in it,  they would have to prove that they could provide for it. Therefore the communities would regulate their own growth as they wished.

I know, it sounds like dream. We would have to change or modify half of the things we have built already. But maybe it’s time to think smaller instead of bigger. Big companies and governments are not always going to be able to provide for the population that keeps growing faster every day.

Thinking about how cities work today, how they are planned, and how our way of life separates us from the processes of producing, consuming and wasting, isn’t it time we envision better ways to do things?

I am aware that this is not a new idea. From Jane Jacobs in the 80’s to current designers that build eco-friendly and self-sufficient houses, i think it is all pointing towards changing the way our infrastructure systems work today. We just have to channel all these ideas to integrate them better, so they don’t get lost in the way or get disqualified as  “hippie” and far-fetched.

It’s time to think of the way we are going to survive what this world is bringing to us, with all it’s global warming events, our overpopulation and economic crises. We need to take care of ourselves and our surroundings and not leave it for somebody else to do. Take conscious responsibility of what we consume, what we produce as waste, our surroundings and care for the people who live around us. Have a local conscience so that we can make better global communities, that interact and learn from each other. Crazy dream, I know.

My Ideal City

The following ideas could sound a little crazy and utopic, but oh how i wish that one day they could come true.
I’ll begin with the most recent events.
New York has just been through a natural disaster like no other in history. Half of the island and its suburbs lost power because of explosions in midtown and in the main power hubs. Well, also, there was a hurricane.
The first question that came to my head was, why did half of the city lose power if the explosion was on 14th street?
The answer,  that got me thinking that this theory is not that terrible to believe in, is that we’re all connected to an infrastructure that clearly does not function the best way it could.

Flashback to Grad school.
The Project: How to “solve” the favelas in Caracas, Venezuela. There are no government services, electricity, gas, water nor drainage. The city built itself faster than the government ever could. My proposal then was to create small communities, or nucleus of no more than 20 families each. These nuclei would be self sufficient. They would grow their own vegetables on rooftops, maybe keep some farm animals, gather their own rainwater and provide energy through solar power.
At the time, it seemed to me a utopic enough idea for grad school. In Caracas, the government can’t and probably won’t be able to provide the infrastructure that it’s inhabitants need. This project tried to provide basic services in a relatively simple, idealistic way. It is easier to organize a small community rather than a larger one, and this way people would care for their surroundings with the conscience and responsibility needed to make better environments.

After the hurricane and the lack of services that we experienced, my following thought was: Would it work for larger, more modern cities as well?

Imagine that Manhattan was a cluster of small self-sufficient communities, maybe one for every block. They would produce their own vegetables on rooftops and keep some livestock. Through solar power they would generate their own electricity, gather rain water and filter it, and recycle or reuse their own waste. If a block wanted to build a higher building, with more people in it,  they would have to prove that they could provide for it. Therefore the communities would regulate their own growth as they wished.

I know, it sounds like dream. We would have to change or modify half of the things we have built already. But maybe it’s time to think smaller instead of bigger. Big companies and governments are not always going to be able to provide for the population that keeps growing faster every day.

Thinking about how cities work today, how they are planned, and how our way of life separates us from the processes of producing, consuming and wasting, isn’t it time we envision better ways to do things?

I am aware that this is not a new idea. From Jane Jacobs in the 80’s to current designers that build eco-friendly and self-sufficient houses, i think it is all pointing towards changing the way our infrastructure systems work today. We just have to channel all these ideas to integrate them better, so they don’t get lost in the way or get disqualified as  “hippie” and far-fetched.

It’s time to think of the way we are going to survive what this world is bringing to us, with all it’s global warming events, our overpopulation and economic crises. We need to take care of ourselves and our surroundings and not leave it for somebody else to do. Take conscious responsibility of what we consume, what we produce as waste, our surroundings and care for the people who live around us. Have a local conscience so that we can make better global communities, that interact and learn from each other. Crazy dream, I know.

Posted 1 year ago

About:

The Secret to Life is Dominating the skill through which you can express your Soul.

Monica Trejo
Mexican Architect living and working in NYC.
Graduated from Columbia GSAPP
Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design.
Happy.

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