Sunday, 16 October 2011

City Form and Natural Process

In continuing with the mapping pieces i was creating last year i began to explore the idea of the balance between man made structures and the natural, and have been reading a a book called, 'City Form And Natural Process', by Michael Hough (1984) which explores these ideas. 

Though cutting out all the spaces between the road i want the explore the idea of isolation from everything that isn't mapped out for us, all the areas we miss in daily life, "The technology that sustains the modern city has now touched every corner of human life, every landscape and wilderness, no matter how remote, and reinforces this isolation." 

The book also talks about how, "The average urban dweller going about his daily life will experience the city though its pattern of streets and pedestrian ways,  shopping areas, civil squares, parks and gardens. there is another generally ignored landscape however, lying beneath the surface of the cities public places."

Hough also uses a good example of the battle between the man made and the nature trying reclaim the land through a place called The Outer Harbour Headland, in Toronto. It was a harbour built by the Toronto Harbour Commission in 1959 to accommodate what they believed would be a massive rise in shipping due to the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway. When the new trade never happened the Headland was left unused and now is a demonstration of the natural process. 

"From the loose rubble, subsoil and sand from which it was built, a new landscape has begun to evolve. Wind and wave grinding bricks of concrete to sand; marshland and mudflats have appeared, that have now provided a habitat for thousands of breeding and migrated gulls. terns and ducks. some species of plants have migrated here and established themselves."

"the question that arises, therefor, is this: which are the derelict sites in the city requiring rehabilitation? Those fortuitous and ecologically diverse landscapes representing the urban natural forces at work, ir the formalised landscapes created by man?"