Sunday, February 12, 2012

Places one can go to without having a reason to go

Source: Van Grunsven, M. ‘Het Einde van de Buitenwijk’, De Groene Amsterdammer, 16.12.2010, pp. 50-53.

It appears that change is afoot in what Americans want out of their home environment. Van Grunsven collects and proffers ideas that centre on a new desire for walkability. ‘People want a return to a walkable environment’ with more social amenities, and an increased sense of community and place. (p. 51) Even those suburbs that are based on a city model are in higher demand, and rents are higher than in the typical, empty, sprawled suburb. (p. 53) Additionally, people want public spaces, places you can go to without a consuming impulse as the impetus, for in modern suburbia there are no places to go to without having a reason to go there (drawn from James Kustler’s TED Talk in 2004). (p. 51)

I like this sudden desire for walkability, and with it an accompanying aimlessness; to be able to go somewhere, without having a reason; to wander. Indeed, wandering is inherent to walking. In the suburbs, where the only mode of transport is a car (even where buses are available, people will choose cars) wandering is not really an option. To wander through the suburb itself would offer little surprise as each corner you turn looks similar to the corner you’ve just come from, while an aimless drive does not offer the immersion into place that an aimless walk does.

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