The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Utopic distopia

I'm intrigued by the work of Paolo Soleri, a big proponent of arcology. An arcology is generally a huge building that can house an entire community of 20,000 or more and includes work and living space. A city in a box, if you will. I also have an interest in Buckminster Fuller, who has also done work in large scale construction for housing communities.

Yet the planned communities by Walt Disney scares me. And yet, is there any real difference between the work of all three? All three center their ideas around “planned communities,” where everything is executed to a script set down by these visionary geniuses—yet in my experience (and well documented by Stewart Brand in How Buildings Learn) the more detailed the planning, the less flexible the result will be. Frank Lloyd Wright's homes are static and unlivable (they leak water like you wouldn't believe). As art, they're genius. As homes—they're failures.

As are utopias. If they worked, there'd be more of them around.

My Dad lives in Palm Springs, California and each time I visit him, the town is exactly the same, only completely different. The physical structures remain static—that's because Palm Springs has legislated development in Palm Springs to such a degree that nothing can change physically. Yet stores come and go and come and go and come and go because Palm Springs can't grow! The city government wants to plan the look and feel of Palm Springs and by doing so, is strangling it of all possible life.

Then again, the unrestricted growth of South Florida is alarming me and that is anything but controlled (well, for the meaning of controlled as I'm using it right now).

There has to be some happy medium in here somewhere.

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