Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Seminar 4 - Contested Cities: Social Process and Spatial form

This seminar was based around David Harvey’s work on social process and spatial forms. David Harvey touches on big issues for planning and constructing cities and also developing current urban areas and making them work. Community vs. functionality is a big issue and it’s hard to say which one is better, what good is a great community which can’t function? And what good is a well functioning urban area without community? One could argue you can’t have a good community that can’t function and you can’t have a functioning urban area without community, it doesn’t work like that, there has to be a balance.

D Harvey touches the fact that the urban landscape of the city creates fundamental social inequalities. A class and income effect which means some people will thrive earning a lot of money and living in affluent areas, well others dwindle living in poor and dessalent areas. You can’t have the one extreme without the other and this creates great urban expanses such as expensive aesthetic buildings and areas as well as urban downfall secluded societies in the form of slums. This seems to be unavoidable in today’s society and with vastly increasing populations in major urban areas it only seems to be getting more extreme.

Solving this problem is where the community vs. functionality comes into things. If you redevelop a slum you have to deliver a dense urban development to house the residents of the slum in and the maintenance of that new urban area will only happen if the residence are happy and want the new development, many are not. The slums may be dirty and not nice to look at but they have a strong sense of community as shown in the documentary slumming it so to just redevelop it you have to consider how the community would continue to work and make the urban landscape look nicer. Not just develop non- functioning vertical slums.

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