Car Environment - New Urbanism 1

Photo: LivingSpace, London Road, Sheffield.

- Lost Community -

“Our quality of life depends on the quality of our surroundings" George Monbiot, The Guardian, 6 Aug 2008.

Community space is the public domain, but - can we be honest here - is there a public domain left?. Take a look just about anywhere and you see lines of moving and parked cars bordered by a narrow strip of concrete. On this narrow strip of concrete “pedestrians” are compelled to walk. Even this narrow strip, however, is assailed by noise and fumes and is often caged in by twisted box-steel crash barriers. Whatever function a pavement may or may not serve, it is certainly no substitute for a true public domain or for a living community, at least not in any meaningful sense of the word.

The automobile has driven life from the public domain and the public domain has simply been redefined as automobile infrastructure. Now you are told to believe that the private automobile is essential (which it is not) and that the public domain serves no essential purpose (which it does).

In the past the public domain was the stage upon which the city expressed its life, it was what our communities once shared in common, it used to exist where the cars now drive. Today you may as well lock up your children and throw away the zimmerframe, the public domain is gone and in its place is the urban racetrack.