Spontaneous Cities: Lessons to Improve Planning for Housing
Salingaros, Nikos Angelos
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The world can learn two key lessons from spontaneous settlements: (i) design so as to adapt to human biology; and (ii) design to save energy. Timeless processes of urban growth and sustainability have forced societies to conserve energy. Yet, nowadays, a profession focused on design ideology and short-term profit discredits many economical and effective long-term design methods. Decision-makers, politicians, and urbanists talk of energy conservation while continuing to use failed notions of industrial urbanity in place of documented solutions that work. Most damaging is the myopic academic elite’s fixation on an unsustainable industrial-modernist visual vocabulary of minimalist forms. By promoting typologies based on images dating from the 1920s, instead of using scientific analysis, the industry serves extractive global imperialism rather than satisfying the world’s population needs. We should instead learn from how self-builders adapt form, geometry, materials, surfaces, and ornament to maximize the user’s emotional experience in an otherwise extremely challenging environment.
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