Efficiency ruled modernist city planning in order to endorse the productive flow of people and goods. The navigation of the automobile dictated the spatiality of a city, producing a typical city fabric comprised of segregated uses and people into discrete zones. Modernist architects and city planners alike advocated for this rationality often through utopian models of city planning that endorsed the hierarchical importance of vehicular movement from one discrete zone of activity to another. Architects, city planners, and engineers began to take on the role of “social organizers” who felt it their duty to remedy and regulate the chaos of urbanity.

Suburban sprawl has isolated people by age, class, and race - the young from the old, the rich from the poor, Caucasian people from African American people.[1]Bernick and Cervero, authors of Transit Villages of the 21st Century explain the severe repercussions of this separation when stating the following, “perhaps the most pernicious and troubling effects of an increasingly auto-dependent society are the social injustices that result from physically and socially isolating significant segments of society.” As discussed prior, spatial implications of hegemonic power in the United States has permanently placed racial segregation as a structural feature in American cities’ organization.[2]Beyond the literal segregation of affluent communities from the poor, typically minority communities, additional implications arose from the superimposition of automobile infrastructure. Historically oppressed populations began to see their systems and communities weaken in the grasp of dictatorial land restrictions. Since economic growth occurred beyond the outskirts of the city limits, available only to those who could reach it, any possibility of fiscal empowerment for the already disenfranchised and disregarded populations was hampered. This lack of economic opportunity lead to intergenerational poverty that has become for many, an inescapable cycle.[3]

 

kinetic floor tile
mutually beneficial
wind energy
mutually beneficial

Moving beyond the solely conceptual realm, a city which is conceived within and around the values embedded in such  concepts as “the Aleph” and “Thirdspace” would invigorate a new sense of urbanity that is non-privileging by being inherently lacking in spatial hierarchy and division. Urbanity in such a new typological city is comprised of a hyper intermingling of all urban functions and people. Zijderveld agrees that a lively city is one of alterations, varieties, contradictions, and ambiguities, “a city with a lively urbanity is a crazy place...indeed, this may well be the gravest mistake of the functionalist city: it is a sterile and one-sidedly middle-class, solidly bourgeois conception.”[1]

 

[1] Zijderveld. A Theory of Urbanity: the Economic and Civic Culture of Cities. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1998.

A smooth and differentiated landscape would support the new DNA of the vehicle and simultaneously, all other aspects that produce a lively urbanity. If a vehicle can be autonomously driven and accurately navigate itself through and around obstacles, then it can inhabit a non-linear directionality within the same spaces being occupied by people and their environments. The architectural firm, BIG, proposed “(Driver)less is more” for the Audi Urban Future Award in 2010. They similarly predicted that the autonomous vehicle of the near-future will be an agent of change for urban spaces within the city. They had projected that vehicles would be banned within the confines of the inner city, specifically in order to mitigate the perils of traffic congestion. Their illustrations of the city comprised of autonomous vehicle movement alongside the movement of people exemplifies an elastic version of urban space that is no longer confined to the “proper” uses of streets and sidewalks.[1] Hodgepodge would utilize similar language within public spaces yet the actual topography and fabric of the city would more radically change along with the advancements in automobile technology so as to be completely capable of future change without disrupting communities in the way that the former infrastructural network was capable of doing.

 

 

[1] “BIG's Proposal for the Audi Urban Future Award.” ArchDaily, September 10, 2010. https://www.archdaily.com/77103/bigs-proposal-for-the-audi-urban-future-award?ad_medium=gallery.