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  • Travel with me

  • to some of the most beautiful spots in cities around the world:

  • Rome's Spanish steps;

  • the historic neighborhoods of Paris and Shanghai;

  • the rolling landscape of Central Park;

  • the tight-knit blocks of Tokyo or Fez;

  • the wildly sloping streets of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro;

  • the dizzying step wells of Jaipur;

  • the arched pedestrian bridges of Venice.

  • Now let's go to some newer cities.

  • Six downtowns built across six continents in the 20th century.

  • Why do none of these places have any of the charming characteristics

  • of our older cities?

  • Or let's go to six suburbs built on six continents in the 20th century.

  • Why do none of them have any of the lyrical qualities

  • that we associate with the places that we cherish the most?

  • Now, maybe you think I'm just being nostalgic --

  • why does it matter?

  • Who cares if there is this creeping sameness besetting our planet?

  • Well, it matters because most people around the world

  • are gravitating to urban areas globally.

  • And how we design those urban areas could well determine

  • whether we thrive or not as a species.

  • So, we already know that people who live in transit-rich areas,

  • live in apartment buildings,

  • have a far lower carbon footprint

  • than their suburban counterparts.

  • So maybe one lesson from that is if you love nature,

  • you shouldn't live in it.

  • (Laughter)

  • But I think the dry statistics

  • of what's known as transit-oriented development

  • only tells part of the story.

  • Because cities, if they're going to attract people,

  • have to be great.

  • They have to be powerful magnets with distinctive appeal

  • to bring in all those new green urbanites.

  • And this is not just an aesthetic issue, mind you.

  • This is an issue of international consequence.

  • Because today, every day,

  • literally hundreds of thousands of people are moving into a city somewhere,

  • mainly in the Global South.

  • And when you think about that, ask yourself:

  • Are they condemned to live in the same bland cities

  • we built in the 20th century,

  • or can we offer them something better?

  • And to answer that question,

  • you have to unpack how we got here in the first place.

  • First: mass production.

  • Just like consumer goods and chain stores,

  • we mass-produce glass and steel and concrete and asphalt and drywall,

  • and we deploy them in mind-numbingly similar ways across the planet.

  • Second: regulation.

  • So, take cars, for instance.

  • Cars travel at very high speeds.

  • They're susceptible to human error.

  • So when we're asked, as architects, to design a new street,

  • we have to look at drawings like this,

  • that tell us how high a curb needs to be,

  • that pedestrians need to be over here and vehicles over there,

  • a loading zone here, a drop-off there.

  • What the car really did in the 20th century

  • is it created this carved-up, segregated landscape.

  • Or take the ladder fire truck -- you know, those big ladder trucks

  • that are used to rescue people from burning buildings?

  • Those have such a wide turning radius,

  • that we have to deploy an enormous amount of pavement, of asphalt,

  • to accommodate them.

  • Or take the critically important wheelchair.

  • A wheelchair necessitates a landscape of minimal slopes

  • and redundant vertical circulation.

  • So wherever there's a stair, there has to be an elevator or a ramp.

  • Now, don't get me wrong, please -- I am all for pedestrian safety,

  • firefighting

  • and certainly, wheelchair access.

  • Both of my parents were in wheelchairs at the end of their lives,

  • so I understand very much that struggle.

  • But we also have to acknowledge that all of these well-intentioned rules,

  • they had the tremendous unintended consequence

  • of making illegal the ways in which we used to build cities.

  • Similarly illegal: at the end of the 19th century,

  • right after the elevator was invented,

  • we built these charming urban buildings,

  • these lovely buildings, all over the world,

  • from Italy to India.

  • And they had maybe 10 or 12 apartments in them.

  • They had one small elevator and a staircase that wrapped them

  • and a light well.

  • And not only were they charming buildings that were cost-effective,

  • they were communal --

  • you ran into your neighbor on that stairwell.

  • Well, you can't build this, either.

  • By contrast, today, when we have to build a major new apartment building somewhere,

  • we have to build lots and lots of elevators

  • and lots of fire stairs,

  • and we have to connect them with these long, anonymous, dreary corridors.

  • Now, developers -- when they're confronted with the cost

  • of all of that common infrastructure,

  • they have to spread that cost over more apartments,

  • so they want to build bigger buildings.

  • What that results in is the thud,

  • the dull thud of the same apartment building being built

  • in every city across the world.

  • And this is not only creating physical sameness,

  • it's creating social sameness,

  • because these buildings are more expensive to build,

  • and it helped to create an affordability crisis

  • in cities all over the world, including places like Vancouver.

  • Now, I said there was a third reason for all this sameness,

  • and that's really a psychological one.

  • It's a fear of difference,

  • and architects hear this all the time from their clients:

  • "If I try that new idea, will I be sued?

  • Will I be mocked?

  • Better safe than sorry."

  • And all of these things have conspired together

  • to blanket our planet with a homogeneity that I think is deeply problematic.

  • So how can we do the opposite?

  • How can we go back to building cities

  • that are physically and culturally varied again?

  • How can we build cities of difference?

  • I would argue that we should start

  • by injecting into the global the local.

  • This is already happening with food, for instance.

  • You just look at the way in which craft beer has taken on corporate beer.

  • Or, how many of you still eat Wonder Bread?

  • I'd bet most of you don't.

  • And I bet you don't because you don't want processed food

  • in your life.

  • So if you don't want processed food,

  • why would you want processed cities?

  • Why would you want these mass-produced, bleached places

  • where all of us have to live and work every day?

  • (Applause)

  • So, technology was a big part of the problem in the 20th century.

  • When we invented the automobile, what happened is,

  • the world all bent towards the invention.

  • And we recreated our landscape around it.

  • In the 21st century,

  • technology can be part of the solution --

  • if it bends to the needs of the world.

  • So what do I mean by that?

  • Take the autonomous vehicle.

  • I don't think the autonomous vehicle is exciting because it's a driverless car.

  • That, to me, only implies

  • that there's even more congestion on the roads, frankly.

  • I think what's exciting about the autonomous vehicle is the promise --

  • and I want to stress the word "promise,"

  • given the recent accident in Arizona --

  • the promise that we could have these small, urban vehicles

  • that could safely comingle with pedestrians and bicycles.

  • That would enable us to design humane streets again,

  • streets without curbs,

  • maybe streets like the wooden walkways on Fire Island.

  • Or maybe we could design streets with the cobblestone of the 21st century,

  • something that captures kinetic energy, melts snow,

  • helps you with your fitness when you walk.

  • Or remember those big ladder fire trucks?

  • What if we could replace them and all the asphalt that comes with them

  • with drones and robots that could rescue people from burning buildings?

  • And if you think that's outlandish, you'd be amazed to know

  • how much of that technology is already being used today

  • in rescue activity.

  • But now I'd like you to really imagine with me.

  • Imagine if we could design the hovercraft wheelchair.

  • Right?

  • An invention that would not only allow equal access,

  • but would enable us to build the Italian hill town of the 21st century.

  • I think you'd be amazed to know

  • that just a few of these inventions, responsive to human need,

  • would completely transform the way we could build our cities.

  • Now, I bet you're also thinking:

  • "We don't have kinetic cobblestones or flying wheelchairs yet,

  • so what can we do about this problem with today's technology?"

  • And my inspiration for that question comes from a very different city,

  • the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

  • I have clients there

  • who have asked us to design a 21st-century open-air village

  • that's sustainably heated using today's technology,

  • in the heart of their downtown.

  • And that's to cope with their frigid winters.

  • And the project is both poetry and prose.

  • The poetry is really about evoking the local:

  • the mountainous terrain,

  • using colors to pick up the spectacular light,

  • understanding how to interpret the nomadic traditions

  • that animate the nation of Mongolia.

  • The prose has been the development of a catalogue of buildings,

  • of small buildings that are fairly affordable,

  • using local construction materials and technology

  • that can still provide new forms of housing,

  • new workspace,

  • new shops

  • and cultural buildings, like a theater or a museum --

  • even a haunted house.

  • While working on this in our office,

  • we've realized that we're building upon the work of our colleagues,

  • including architect Tatiana Bilbao, working in Mexico City;

  • Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena, working in Chile;

  • and recent Pritzker winner Balkrishna Doshi, working in India.

  • And all of them are building spectacular new forms of affordable housing,

  • but they're also building cities of difference,

  • because they're building cities that respond to local communities,

  • local climates

  • and local construction methods.

  • We're doubling down on that idea, we're researching a new model

  • for our growing cities with gentrification pressures,

  • that could build upon that late-19th-century model

  • with that center core,

  • but a prototype that could shape-shift in response to local needs

  • and local building materials.

  • All of these ideas, to me, are nostalgia-free.

  • They all tell me

  • that we can build cities that can grow,

  • but grow in a way that reflects the diverse residents

  • that live in those cities;

  • grow in a way that can accommodate all income groups,

  • all colors, creeds, genders.

  • We could build such spectacular cities that we could disincentivize sprawl

  • and actually protect nature.

  • We can grow cities that are high-tech,

  • but also respond to the timeless cultural needs of the human spirit.

  • I'm convinced that we can build cities of difference

  • that help to create the global mosaic to which so many of us aspire.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Travel with me

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B1 US TED century build local design building

【TED】Vishaan Chakrabarti: How we can design timeless cities for our collective future (How we can design timeless cities for our collective future | Vishaan Chakrabarti)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/07/16
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