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Comments on Week 11&12 Readings-2015



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  1. Jill Desimini’s article, “Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment” was a very interesting read. Desimini highlights the concept of loose space that is used only temporarily and not sustainably. She emphasizes the idea that the temporary is a catalyst for future change but it cannot last as these spaces require greater restructuring. She wrote, “Temporary initiatives are most often commentaries, provocations, and reactions to the existing condition. They are not projections of future possibility”(12). I thought this statement was very peculiar. Desimini uses the example of the Tempelhof Airport Park, saying that it was a magnificent space but it would need more structuring to last. I don’t think this is true. I think the space seems to be used effectively and as long as the government prevents development, the park could last. This connects back to an earlier point of Desimini’s. She explained that during economic downturns, unwanted space was revitalized by citizens. When the economy was again growing, businesses bought up the space and developed it. However, Desimini does not make explicit the connection between these two activities. As the citizens better their spaces, more people are encouraged to move in. Developers then see the value of the land. In other words, developers are destroying the spaces that made the area valuable in the first place. Citizens create valuable space, other citizens move in, and then developers only see the space as valuable for its economic viability. The problem here is the definition of valuable. People see an airport park and are happy to have a space to enjoy nature. Developers and even urban planners see a need to “fix” the space and make it more structured or economically viable. These unplanned spaces are the draw that brings in new citizens in the first place, it is not necessary to back them, it is only necessary to keep them clean and free of development.

  2. (James Sevasin)
    I read Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment. I like how she discussed how some of these temporary structures are not very sustainable and are not any better than leaving garbage in these vacant lots. If it is a major piece of abandoned land, the citizens, a large company with interest on the land and the local government fight about what should be done in the land, things such as creativity, economic growth, political view, and popularity are usually the factors that make the decisions on the abandoned piece of land. Many times sustainability is left out in consideration in these projects. Just because a plan is originally temporary does not mean that the plan is sustainable and good for the environment. Sometimes projects that are slated as temporary end up staying for a very long time for financial reasons.

  3. I think the article “Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment” was an important read for us students to consider when designing our lot of Seventh Street. Although our lots are not designed to be temporary, many of these points still hold true. It points out a lot of things to consider that would alter the successfulness of our design, and how we might go about avoiding those issues altogether.
    For instance, the article first mentions that “loose” land containing temporary structures will eventually be demolished or bought out if the design does not match the vitality of the surrounding environment. I think this aspect is important because it will be useful to keep in mind that if our designs do not function to compliment the surrounding city environment, it stands to be forgotten and eliminated in the future. It defines temporary as something that something that merely “fills” empty space rather than “use” the empty space by existing as a durable structure. It also points out that landscape is considered temporary, and good use of space, but that it is slow to develop and can be quickly overlooked when projects for construction are eyeing the property. From conversations in class, many of our projects involve gardens or plant-life, so it should be of significant importance to research fast-growing plants and flowers so that it can become established and instantly benefit the community. However, one of the most important points I considered was this, “temporary interventions struggle to match the duration, scale and scope appropriate to their context”. Simply put, it is saying our lot design will have to withstand changing interests as well as be able to survive physical changes in the community, in order to remain relevant in New Bedford. Sure, a garden may seem super interesting in the spring and summer, but in the winter will the plot of land still be of interest and relevant to the community? Will our context, the history of Seventh Street, remain interesting and be able to last over a course of generations? These are questions to consider, one’s I definitely never thought of until I read this article, when designing our lot.

  4. As I was reading Jill Desimin’s article landscape abandonment involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and soil conditions that processes the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The combination of the tradition of landscape gardening and emerging city planning it gave Landscape Abandonment its unique focus to serve these needs, like to develop a design discipline, and respond to the various movements in architecture and design throughout the environment.

  5. The latter portion of Jill Desimin’s article stood out to me in particular. She writes about the former Tempelhof Airport in Germany, a 1930s Nazi-built airport that was shut down in 2008 after years of hemorrhaging money. By 2010 the land – some 900 acres – was opened to the public as a park in the middle of Berlin. This stood out to me because it reminded me of a similar area in Porto, the major city in the North of Portugal. Though this area was never an airport, it is still a very scenic, quiet, and peaceful public place in the middle of the city. In fact, when people are in this park, they often forget the are still in a major city because it uses large trees and thick walls around the perimeter to baffle the noises of the city. Having public places like these available to city residents is a great feature for boosting moral.

  6. I read Jill Desimini’s article, Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment. This article emphasized the importance of planning when it comes to utilizing empty plots of land. She stresses that many projects are rushed and aren’t designed to be long term and sustainable. She also argues that short term solutions to empty land should be avoided. Taking time to plan sustainable projects especially in cities with large areas of abandoned land is important. The chart in the article shows the time frame of different urban development projects. One that stood out was the Heidlberg project which I didn’t know was estimated to have a duration of 27 plus years. Some of the other projects were projected to have a short duration and have no use after that. I think if enough time is taken in planning every project like this, more sustainable cities and towns can be possible.

  7. From the very beginning, this article provided useful insight into the development of our vacant lot. First, when Desimini mentioned that landscaping plans require time to develop culturally and ecologically. Because our plans for the vacant lot include plans for butterfly-attracting flowers and other vegetation, this advice was very relevant. I also found the advice about creating more permanent solutions for cities that need a lot of help to be insightful. New Bedford certainly needs a lot of help at many sites across the city, so her advice about cities that need that extensive amount of help indicates that temporary solutions will not work. This places importance on finding long-lasting solutions, instead of an approach that suggests “lets try this, and if this doesn’t work then we will try something else.” It imposes higher importance on the seriousness and critical thinking that is crucial to this project. I particularly liked the description of these vacant lots being “seeds for longer-term development”. There was extra drive for time and creativity investment in our project upon seeing the chart that depicted the post-temporary use of the lots. Many of the lots unfortunately returned to being empty or abandoned, with no use, when the plans were more temporary than long-term. However the hope that I find for our plans for vegetation came later on in the article, long after this chart and data. On page 7, for example, she explains how long trees take to grow, and how -in this waiting time- people tend to lose interest in the project. Eventually disinvestment takes hold of the lot again, and when paired with the hopelessness that comes with a failed project it is easy for those who inherit the failure to give up on the space completely. However, our plans are for smaller and faster-growing vegetation. Therefore, the results and metaphorical “fruits of labor” will be more quickly and readily apparent. Once a successful garden is established within the first year or two, momentum will more easily be able to carry the project. Another root of hope is that she said disregard to sustainable practice is a common ailment of projects. Our plans have a lot of emphasis on sustainability, so this is not much of a concern.

  8. Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment
    This article goes compares both temporary and long-term sustainable development. The authors goes over various reasons why temporary design is crucial for urban transformation. I agree with their reasoning. When it comes to making changes in an area were the community is used to seeing the same thing every day, a drastic change may not go over well. Temporary design helps people adjust to changes in their community while at the same time preparing them for the more long-term changes to come. A step by step approach may go over much better with our project of changing the lot on 7th street.

  9. The portion of Jill Desmini’s article that discussed the 900 acre nazi airport that in its final days was hemorrhaging 15 million euros in its final years was inspirational to me. The fact that the citizens prevented this area from becoming commercially developed and got it turned into a 700 acre public park is astonishing. It seems in these days where money rules all and everyone will stab someone in the back just to get more, it would be impossible to get a park with no revenue put into a space with much profit margin.

  10. In Jill Desimini’s article, “Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment” she talks about the importance of planning when it comes to utilizing empty lots of land. She talks about how many projects dealing with empty lots are rushed and are not designed to be long term and sustainable. She also argues that many of these short term solutions are not nearly as beneficial to the community and the environment as a well planned long term solution. When dealing with lots of land in the city planning is key because your are dealing with a lot of people and potentially minimal land. If the project is well planned and is going to help the community in a beneficial and sustainable manner there should be no reason for these plans to fail after a short matter of time.

  11. Jill Desmini’s “Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment” was a more realistic and darker read than I had anticipated. She really brings in a new perspective of things, one being that temporary structures and structures on a small scale, while successful in the present, fail to transcend time. These structures and operations are too small compared to the enormity of whole impoverished city. I do agree with her that changing one tiny little vacant lot in a sea of vacant lots will not do much to effect the community as a whole. Projects like our, have to be embraced and continued if we wish for change to truly affect a community. This means changing the mindset of the people who live in the community, and also of how people who are not from the community perceive it.

  12. I agreed with the author’s main point in criticizing Masdar City that environmental efforts should be more community-based and affordable. I like that Masdar City had strict environmental regulations and it sounds like a revolutionary place, but it doesn’t seem appropriate for the government to spend so much money on something that will benefit the rich. This is especially true in an area that is known for having creative methods to dispel heat. I admire that Masdar city used a few of these methods, like the concrete windows. I also enjoy the fact that Masdar City makes sustainability attractive and admirable. If its cool to be environmentally-friendly, then the rich won’t be content just buying air conditioning and leaving it at that. I think that this is an enormously valuable and interesting project because it explores new sustainable technology and popularizes an environmentally-conscious concept. However, it is unacceptable that this project almost exclusively benefits the rich and was subsidized by the government. Hopefully putting these changes into practice in the city will allow for change in the outside communities as technologies are tested and made cheaper.

  13. Masdar City fosters a renewable and sustainable kind of lifestyle. I really like how everything is designed around the notion of sustainability – from the streets to the way they harvest energy from solar sources. They make pedestrian traffic a more cmfortable experience so more people will deviate from using automobiles as transportation. It also allows people to bring in their businesses and work in Masdar City which will help expose more people to a more sustainable way of living. What I do not like about it is how extravagant the whole city is. I understand it is a new city and they want it to look futuristic and “cutting-edge” but what kind of message are you sending to people about your beliefs on sustainability when you are using all of these resources to build this brand new city? A better way would have been to use a lot of re-purposed materials for constructing the city. This would have cut down on the cost of building the structures and also help the issue of creating more waste.

  14. Masdar City is an eco-city currently being built in the desert near Abu Dhabi. This way of building incorporates new technology and sustainable design including renewable energy sources in an effort to achieve resource self-sufficiency. There is a debate on whether this environmentally designed community can grow economically and they are also criticized as being “socially exclusive” and “overly dependent on technologic improvements in place of broader societal change”. One aspect I thought was really powerful is not allowing gasoline-powered vehicles at all in the city. Although there is a lot of criticism, Masdar City represents a new way of building and a major advance in sustainable urban design. I think that if they found a way to make this standard of living to be more affordable and practical for people, this would be a very great project and perhaps more cities would consider building this way.

  15. The Masdar City article is a very unique example of a sustainable city that gives incite into what our world can transform into over time. However the city was built by the Emirs and the crown prince of the United Emirates, not the people. Due to their regions vast oil wealth, billions of dollars where allocated to build Masdar. While it is very sustainable it can only house 50,000 people and accommodate an additional 45,000 commuters. I think that this city is a step in the right direction it essentially makes it exclusive to the rich leaving poorer communities out. Our world and societies need sustainable public policy changes that give positive incentives for people to do the right thing instead of fines/negative consequences. Furthermore there is already so much infrastructure build in the world, instead of building a completely new city in the desert why couldn’t they have renovated a city and added on to make the old new again? Everyone has the ability to recycle, and make their own decisions regarding sustainability. The challenge for today’s society is getting people to change their decision making process in every socioeconomic level. Whether they are poor, middle class or rich.

  16. The article about Masdar City offers several interesting perspectives on the idea of true sustainability that we inherently ignore. These eco-cities are defined by their ability to be completely self-sustaining and Masdar City is merely the latest in a small group of cities like it around the world. When designing a device, a structure, or even a city to be sustainable, some of the aspects that are often overlooked are the impact on quality of life for those within its scope. In the case of Masdar City, one of the major decisions made was to disallow cars within the boundaries of the cities. In their place, the designers plan to implement underground electric cars. This is just one example of the compromise that must be made in order to seek the goal of a sustainable future, but there are many more and the problem is, many people, myself included, struggle with the idea of sacrificing some of our luxuries for this goal. A problem that Lau brings up right away in the paper is that we are “overly dependent on technological improvements in place of broader societal change.” At the end of the day, lifestyle and societal change is an absolute imperative in order for a goal like this to be achieved because this is not a process that we can afford to do gradually over the course of a few hundred years, meanwhile allowing technology to catch up with the demand. This is something that needs to happen rapidly. Ultimately, it is all or nothing; we need to have nearly universal commitment or the prospect of failure will be very high.

  17. Masdar City was nice to read about. The idea of it is wonderful, being environmentally friendly to a certain degree. However, why would they waste so much money basically re-building the city from scratch, when you could re-purpose buildings, re-use materials and fix the current city, rather than build a whole new one? The idea seems a little wasteful honestly. They could use that extra money in tons of other places that don’t necessarily have to do with making the city environmentally friendly, but instead use it to help give back to the less fortunate. I do however, really like the idea of the foot traffic. Having people WANT to walk instead of using cars is not only good for the environment, but good for everyone’s health.

  18. The idea behind Masdar City is magnificent, with the geothermal steam production, the solar panels on every roof and over the streets, and the irrigation of plants with treated waste water. These plans will make the city entirely sustainable with even their clean water coming from a hydrogen plant. However, there seems to be many ways for this to go awry. In order for their water consumption to be half that of a normal city of equal population, they will have to regulate the amount of water that each person uses even though they have water saving fixtures. A water saving fixture wont completely mitigate the average teenager who spends 30-45 minutes in the shower. I know this is a gross overestimation of how long the average adult spends in the shower, but these are things that do have to be taken into consideration. The citizens will be living their everyday lives as other would do only in drought conditions. In the end, people do not want to be controlled in every little aspect of their lives. I do believe that an “almost” completely sustainable city can exist but as a means to what end? Residents will have to be limited in every aspect of their everyday lives. Sustainability will come at the cost of certain freedoms and I just don’t believe that this can be adopted all over the world.

  19. Masdar city may turn into the stepping stone for sustainable cities and sustainable thinking in urban environments. Literally every aspect of this city encourages sustainability. It is raised so that it is cooled better with natural winds, they use less transportation than most other cities. Looking at Masdar city from a birds eye and street view everything looks amazing. The architecture is unique and stands out, there are a lot of solar panels, and the organization of the city would make it comfortable to live in.

  20. Masdar City

    This article sparks the concept of reusing and recycling buildings. My favorite part about the article was having solar panels on every house. Why wouldn’t we have solar panels if it can help us save money and gain energy that is being produced from the sun. Having a city that is entirely sustainable in ingenious. Even though every person should be on board with these tactics that will overall help our society, some people do not want this and that is where the issue arises.

  21. 11/06/15
    What I got from reading “Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints” was an in-depth discussion of how and why we react so strongly to industrial ruins, or what many call ruin porn. Many Urban Exploration groups encourage visits to these incredible sites to experience the history that they hold but to never disrupt or destroy any part of them by littering or tagging with graffiti. Thinking from an artist’s perspective, I couldn’t agree more with what this article is stressing about the preservation of historical ruins. An untouched place is much more interesting than a place that has been splattered with paint and trash, lessening its original historical awe of something that once was, but isn’t anymore. I love the quote from Ninjalicious’s website stating, “I’ve always seen abandoned factories as being among the most authentic and exciting playgrounds on Earth.” I think this is such a creative way to put it and still so accurately explaining the feeling that urban explorers experience when they visit these incredible ruins. After reading this article, I feel like I need to go out and travel the world, visiting the oldest cities there are and take pictures, capturing the history of our culture because who knows how long they will last.

    I was hesitant at first when reading Jill Desimini’s journal on Limitations of the Temporary: Landscape and Abandonment because I felt that I have heard all of these topics before and didn’t want to read another article about how each city deals with revitalizing their communities in a sustainable way. This article surprised me though because it was more than just that, it talked specifically about temporary experiment verses permanent solutions. She talks about how temporary ideas become a demonstration project rather than a viable urban design strategy because of its potential to thrive in situations of economic stagnation and its implied democratic appropriation of space. Desimini introduces the term loose space which is described as the free, breathing room of the city, where resourceful and uncanny happenings, like ruderal vegetation experiments and farming blossom, giving a city vitality. This loose space cannot be seen as filler, as something that happens at a bracketed moment in a leftover space, but as an important aspect of permanent maintenance of vitality. The problem is that many loose spaces are used only for temporary fixes because there aren’t any people who have creative ideas who will stand up and take charge and make changes permanent. The temporary can play a role in instigating an important dialogue that transcends the normative conversation about urban shrinkage but it cannot catalyze significant reinvestment or physical change at the citywide scale.

    We have talked intensively about Masdar City and all of its components. After reading the article numerous times I have finally made up my mind about how I feel about this concept. I think if we could all change our cities to use the natural capabilities to help power the city than that would be the ultimate goal for a sustainable way of life, but there are many aspects that make it unrealistic for an actual solution. Many cities would not be able to afford the high priced equipment needed to development zero-carbon electricity technology and an underground tunnel system for electric cars. I think it is possible to increase the amount of solar power we take advantage of and tapping into our natural resources such as wind and steam power to start off with but I truly believe that it will nearly impossible for any cities that are not financially well off to be able to produce any other advanced technology that we have seen in Masdar City.

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