Tag Archives: jane jacobs

Ada Lovelace day: Jane Jacobs

Today is Ada Lovelace day, a day in which each blogger should talk about a woman who changed the world in her field: a good occasion to talk about the person who gave the biggest contribute to contemporary urbanism, Jane Jacobs.

XIX and early XX century were the century of machines, a century in which the mainstream idea was the possibility to explain everything as the sum of a series of deterministic movements. Cities were explained on the same principles, and deterministic solutions were proposed to solve the problems concerning urban development.

drancy_-_les_premiers_gratte-ciel_de_la_region_parisienne_

(image: wikimedia commons)

Jane Jacobs was the first to show the limits of this approach, showing how it led to a car dependent, socially impoverished society. Against the deterministic approach of mainstream architecture, she proposed an approach based on life sciences,  stating that cities grow in the same way as living organism do.

Most of her battles were against new expressways and neighborhood destructions, and now most of her ideas are supported by the new urbanism and complete streets movements.

For further readings:

Spatial organization and human nature

If we think, like Le Corbusier, that human nature is bad, social interactions can only lead us away from the Truth, thus shall be discouraged. A “bad human nature city” will have freeways with no sidewalk, windows on nature, shopping centers with security guards preventing unwanted behaviours…

If we think, like Jane Jacobs, that human nature is good, social interaction can only bring good things, thus shall be incouraged. A “good human nature city” will have roads full of people, windows on the streets, improvised parties, bars and cafés, flash mobs, free hugs, bicycle races

(source: urban reinventors)