I’ve posted about Create Streets before. The London urbanist organization’s Paul Murrain, who once worked with Andrés Duany on downtown Providence, has written a thoughtful and passionate “J’Accuse!” – called “London Deserves Better Than This” on PDF at the website linked above – against skyscrapers in the ancient modern global city.
Here he raises his voice against the ignominious idea that skyscrapers solve population problems in growing cities:
And finally of course we hear the facile argument that tall buildings solve a housing crisis. If that were so, presumably every high-rise city in the world is free from housing need. Rubbish.
But if I’m wrong and height in and of itself guarantees housing supply of the right kind in the right place, then let’s build 500 Shards and put them at every cross road, roundabout and Tube station in London. That should do it and think how happy I’ve just made some members of the RIBA. But I’m not sure the consumers who genuinely need housing will thank me for being up in the clouds particularly if there are three more Shards on the other three corners.
Imagine God taking his seat of authority on such a skyline. Not a pretty picture. But then imagine building 500 of the Cathedral at Salisbury. Not a pretty picture, right? And yet a pretty picture all the same. Not that 500 Salisbury Cathedrals are wanted, but you get the point. Nor are 500 Shards wanted – and yet that, or something all too near, is being proposed in London over the next decade or so – over 200 towers of 20 floors or more have been proposed or received planning permission to rise.
It is Murrain’s point that the density benefits of skyscrapers can be had at far lower ranges of height without scraping the eye of man or the arse of God. He (Murrain) points out that London remains largely a city of two and a half to four story buildings. Raise that to six, he says, and … Shazam! You have density equivalent to so many Shards!
Create Streets has a website filled with grist for the mills (speaking of great places with high density potential) of urbanists and classicists – by which I mean people who are as tired of the way buildings rise as how high they rise.
Tip of the hat to Catherine Johnson for passing this along to TradArch.