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Harmony & chaos
Aaron Hewett

So one of Australia's leading architects thinks that planners should stay the hell out of urban design and so-called 'neighbourhood character'.

He's probably right.

"But when it comes to housing, when they're asking for harmony, they're actually asking for monotony, because most people don't want to build outside of what is around." Glenn Murcutt on the 7.30 Report - transcript here.

It's interesting to listen to other people like Murcutt talk about planning. Planners often try to many order and harmony out of chaos and discord. Whereas others see the city as inherently and appropriately chaotic and harmony as being something obtainable without monotony.

Something to keep in mind when we're doing our work placement and some senior Council planner leans over your shoulder and says "refuse it... the pillars aren't Victorian enough..."

Planning 19th February, 2005 12:45:46   [#] 

Comments

Chicken or the Egg?
I agree in principle with Glenn Murcutt here, but while you all know my stance on large subdivisions I feel that he gives Planners the rough end of the stick so to speak.

His argument over the lack of infrastructure in and around new development cites, especially on the urban periphery highlight one of the most pressing problems facing the continued development of our cities. Governments don't like putting in infrastructure without assurance that it will be used to its full potential. Likewise, developers don't like to put in (but they still do...uugh!) large scale developments without some form of structure plan regarding infrastructure. So we have to different interests pulling against each other, and quite often planners are caught in the middle.

I think the most important point to take from this is that planners (most of the time) would be loathed approve a large subdivision in the back of nowhere, but we have to work within the framework given to us by the planning scheme.

Also (while I'm on my high horse), his distrust of planners' abilities to discern 'good design' pisses me off somewhat. As stated above, we have to work within the planning scheme, but in addition to this, there are all sorts of external pressures put on us from local councillors, resident groups, private developers etc etc. Uugh! Why can't they leave us alone!

Finally, I found this particularly amusing, seeing as he has basically answered his own argument preceeding this quote...

It's not about putting a street in and seeing how many blocks of land you can get into it.

Exactly.

Tom Anderson  23rd February, 2005 11:14:30  

Damn
Terrible, terrible grammar on my behalf. Russ, can you widen the comment field perhaps, it would make it easier to get my comment structure looking nice (and sexy).
Tom Anderson  23rd February, 2005 11:16:03  

He is right, sort of
He is right to identify block size as so important, and to the extent that it is planners' fault they should be blamed. In Victoria, developers tend to do the design of sub-divisions and therefore need to address the blocksize. Having said that, it is as much a planning issue as architecture; and has nothign to do with aesthetics.

I agree with Tom though. Planning (again, at least in Victoria) is often a mediation session between competing political elements - architects, developers, residents, etc. It is never quite clear who should have their way on each issue. To the extent that housing is being done poorly, I agree and planners should be making common cause with architects to improve the situation.

Aaron, personally, I love the chaos. But that might just be me.
Russ  23rd February, 2005 17:34:20  


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