I’ve studied and written a lot over the years about what makes cities work. Many of my ideas have independently coincided with, been refined by, or directly flowed from the minds of Christian and Amy Sottile, who have done truly extraordinary work in Savannah over the years.
In this 19 minute talk at TEDx CreativeCoast in Savannah on May 13, 2011, Christian (who has a standing offer to contribute posts to this blog if the mood ever strikes him) talks about cities as people — of our built environments literally as expressions of our experiences of bodies, faces, gestures, etc. It’s a spectacular, concise talk.
Christian shows how theorists over the centuries have sought and created human forms in architecture, juxtaposes appealing buildings with ones that are not, connects the very language we use to describe cities to the language of the body and of human interaction, and makes the case for integrating awareness of these connections as we move forward with urban expansions.
So much of our development since the mid-20th century has been built around the automobile, which has encouraged builders and planners to flatten the landscape and the architecture — and now almost every city in America seems to have an increasingly blighted suburban area with considerable vacant commercial space. There are ways to revitalize those areas, and there are ways to make better decisions about urban design going forward.
Well worth a look and a listen: