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Old February 23rd, 2012, 01:35 PM   #221
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Preserving walls of medieval cities? Honestly, that is completely unthinkable for major cities.

The only reason Italy, for instance, has so many preserved old cities is because the area (well before Italy existed as a national entity) entered severe economic decline with the onset of the industrial revolution and those tiny or even not so tiny places didn't need to expand and/or were already maxed out in terms of occupying the whole island/hilltop/ridge they had been settled over in the ancient past. The only reason they are not crumbling today is because of massive investments made by the central/regional governments and tourism. It wasn't like those cities have viable economic existence on their own medieval framework if not by tourism.

Cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Roma, Milano etc. must have had torn down the walls to make room for expansion. It was a matter of need.

Remember: walls were built as a defense infrastructure that became outdated with the advent of powerful gunpowder ordinances, and totally obsolete with artillery. They hadn't been built for beauty, or charm, or "character".

Just as a parallel: Spain also have many old "pueblos" that are somehow "frozen in time". But as Spain took longer to become somewhat prosperous, some of them were abandoned and others are going the same way experiencing huge depopulation.

Medieval cities might be cool to look at and walk by, but they are highly dysfunctional for modern life and impose severe restrictions on the ability of people and business to conduct life as usual. So, please, let's not indulge ourselves in the idea that it would be possible for people to be living like it were 1490. Some of those übercool cities present here were still suffering from malaria outbreaks... in 1948!!! - and some had to wait well into the late 1960s for houses to get individual water mains - because it is extremely expensive to deploy infrastructure there.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:19 PM   #222
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Well in Rome there are many Walls still there perfectly conserved, and they are not coming from middle ages, but from roman age, some 1000s years before middle ages...some examples from Rome in 2012 a.D.? Here you are!



























It's a matter of fact that ancient town are gaining momentum right now as modernism is day by day revealing its problems. Traditional urbanism (or even the new urbanism) is answering to a key question about our future: how can a city be connected harmonically with the nature and the enviroment with an aesthetically pleasuring result? Here you are some examples. Of course things change and it is stupid to refuse technology or modern services, but who told you people in those small town does? What it is really well built resists centuries and it is strong enough to perfectly catch up with latest technologies. Believe me, I've been there and I don't see any trade off between tradition and latest technologies or services. Not all that's new is good and not all that's ancient is outdated. Stay tuned!

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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:37 PM   #223
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The City walls of Rome are virtually intact to date indeed.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:44 PM   #224
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@Suburbanist

i agree with your historical analysis about the decline, italy started to loose it's importance and wealth when the major trade routes moved from the mediterranean to the atlanic ocean. then the northern european countries which took advantage of the colonialism entered the industrial revolution leaving italy far behind, the country catched them up only with the miracolo italiano during the sixties. such xix century backwardness frozen in time some places but there are other factors that should be considered...

many of the towns showed here were republics, duchies capitals and city states of some kind so they had public infrastructure and services centuries before the places that built them due to the industrial transformation, also relatively large urban patterns were able to carry all city functions and often may be compared in size with many cities grown in the xix century. in the end the tourism is very important but it covers only 12% of the gdp so it's not sufficient to explain the high standard of living in such places, in fact most of the towns and cities in central and northern italy have large manufacture zones...

it's hard to make an uniform analysis since the development of urban centers differs in cases, there are cases of small centers with less than 1k inhabitants that experienced depopulation and became just places for vacations or some kind of wired hippie communes like calcata, but they are really few, there are small towns that grown in the xx century after the economic boom but remain villages in mentality of the people, there are small towns that in the xx century became industrialized like any others in the world, and there are important medieval or renaissance centers that never grown up in size but faced well the social and economical changes...
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:15 PM   #225
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Preserving walls of medieval cities? Honestly, that is completely unthinkable for major cities.

The only reason Italy, for instance, has so many preserved old cities is because the area (well before Italy existed as a national entity) entered severe economic decline with the onset of the industrial revolution and those tiny or even not so tiny places didn't need to expand and/or were already maxed out in terms of occupying the whole island/hilltop/ridge they had been settled over in the ancient past. The only reason they are not crumbling today is because of massive investments made by the central/regional governments and tourism. It wasn't like those cities have viable economic existence on their own medieval framework if not by tourism..
Largely untrue. They were the new and old proprietors who made up house by house, street by street entire historical cenytres back in the 70s-90s.

Why? Because flats inside the city cores were quite unexpensive and the new quarters were growing fast but soulless on the other hand. So the only way to get a nice but not too expensive place to live in was to turn back into the old towns.

It was the free market who decreed the revival and success of the centri storici as the new quarter for rich people, and this ha remained unchanged so far.

There are few public attempts to sanate historical districts, not to talk of whole historical cities.

In the place where I live, a city of 80 k people in southwestern Lombardy, the nearest supermarket is hosted in an modern underground place dug beneath the main city square, cars are allowed to get inside the loop with due restrictions, non-residents just leave the car in the parking lots outside the restricted area and walk in or commute by bus, all main businness takes place in the old city (Town Hall, Main Post Office, Court of Justice, Chamber of Commerce, Bank Offices, law firms, university departments of liberal arts, historical colleges, and so on) and -as a personal note- the definitely man-sized shape and scale of the historical centre prevents me from even ever using the car apart from the WE -when people from the outer quarters ad the outskirts come to flock to live some sort of aesthetical experience, have a walk, visit churches and museums, attend a conference, a library or wander through the medieval lanes.

Most 10-200k inhabitants cities in Italy run this way. Historical preservation has never been so easy as in the latest 40 years -thanks to the Superintendence of the Arts who doesn't allow whatsoever alteration of the historical look too.

A 800-year infrastructure serves all everyday need of an entire community both in the businness and in the leisure.

All over the centuries, newer building simply replaced older ones, with no regard to the historical or artistic value of the building to be torn down. Today it's quite unusual -to say the least- to replace older houses, and newer ones must anyway be consistent to the historical pattern.

The next step is to revive minor villages aside of tourist routes. Harder, but I'm confident the free market can draw large profits from it in the next decades.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 05:53 PM   #226
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Preserving walls of medieval cities? Honestly, that is completely unthinkable for major cities.

The only reason Italy, for instance, has so many preserved old cities is because the area (well before Italy existed as a national entity) entered severe economic decline with the onset of the industrial revolution and those tiny or even not so tiny places didn't need to expand and/or were already maxed out in terms of occupying the whole island/hilltop/ridge they had been settled over in the ancient past. The only reason they are not crumbling today is because of massive investments made by the central/regional governments and tourism. It wasn't like those cities have viable economic existence on their own medieval framework if not by tourism.

Cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Roma, Milano etc. must have had torn down the walls to make room for expansion. It was a matter of need.

Remember: walls were built as a defense infrastructure that became outdated with the advent of powerful gunpowder ordinances, and totally obsolete with artillery. They hadn't been built for beauty, or charm, or "character".

Just as a parallel: Spain also have many old "pueblos" that are somehow "frozen in time". But as Spain took longer to become somewhat prosperous, some of them were abandoned and others are going the same way experiencing huge depopulation.

Medieval cities might be cool to look at and walk by, but they are highly dysfunctional for modern life and impose severe restrictions on the ability of people and business to conduct life as usual. So, please, let's not indulge ourselves in the idea that it would be possible for people to be living like it were 1490. Some of those übercool cities present here were still suffering from malaria outbreaks... in 1948!!! - and some had to wait well into the late 1960s for houses to get individual water mains - because it is extremely expensive to deploy infrastructure there.
Completely true. Or better, no hypocrital at all. If we believe in progress, if we want to understand the world acording to what we are thaught as modernity and development we shouldnt care to keep the walls, old houses or narrow streets full of impractical structures. We should just care for those old structures that give back some profit because of the tourism, and only if we can judge this tourism as better than other activity that we can develop without the inconvenience of the walls and old houses.

But the problem is that this opinion is a huge minority nowdays. Modernity have also create a concept called history, monument, past and more. The preservation of those structures of the past have been one of the branches of the ideal modern society, modernity at its last nude and barren form -your views on the matter- are just the actual evolution of this modernity that acept itself in his actual form.

On the other hand the presence of structures of the past also tell us about other ways that have been shaped by this final form of modernity you are defending here. The truth is that we are stucked in a half point regarding the matter of what to do with the ''stones with history'', trying to fit this past into the modern logic. Beetwen the people and its conception of their past there are some ''rational'' structure called state and bureocracy that at the same time that monopolise the understanding of the past also protect and teach us about this logic of profit and modern way of living.

To me the shadows of the past, in the modern society im starting to discover need to be a space of irrationality. Some mature and ritual irrationality that opens to us another space agaisnt the myth of the tecnichal progress. On the oposite of what we are thaught, in my city -Granada-, the old city is a big space that summarize logics from de arabs to the XIX bourgoise culture. Past its not here dogmatic of monolitic like the homogeneus urbanizations of modernity are. So my opion is that this diversity needs to be fiercely saved with all the details as a fact of maturity of the reason that have discover itself as dangerous. Is in old Europe where this other brach of modernity -that also has created- has been growing, is in here were the complex past of the modernity that nowdays we think as a single path still links stone and concept.

I hope my english is good enough to make my ideas understandable.

Un saludo.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 07:39 PM   #227
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Quote:
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Medieval cities might be cool to look at and walk by, but they are highly dysfunctional for modern life and impose severe restrictions on the ability of people and business to conduct life as usual.
The street plan of the City of London is medieval, doesnt seem to have done much harm to it.

Youre like a broken record - banging on and on about how old is shit and how utopian ideas of the 60s are fantastic. These ideas have been proven as failures and nowdays pretty much everyone, but the hardcore Le-Corbusier fanatics such as yourself, agree that mass demolitions of historic city-centres for concrete nonsense and motorways was a mistake. There will be no return to those days.

Progress is one thing philistinism is quite another. The trick is achieving a fine balance between new and old. Barcelona and Munich are two cities that got it just about right.


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We should just care for those old structures that give back some profit because of the tourism, and only if we can judge this tourism as better than other activity that we can develop without the inconvenience of the walls and old houses.
Thats simply wrong. We should care about these buildings for aesthetic reasons. House is not a machine for living in, its what differentiates one city from another, its what creates interest and drama in the urban environment. Aesthetics should always come first. It is no surprise that the very idea of preserving the old was born in the 60s - in the age of crime against architecture. Before that noone thought about it - new was better, in every shape and form, but nowdays new is often ugly and thats the problem. Contemporary architecture needs to improve.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:57 PM   #228
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Im afraid you havent understand the point of my post -i was defeding the diference-. Anyways i think aesthetic is very important but no a strong argument to fight against the destruction of the ''old city center''.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:14 PM   #229
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Walls in Krakow












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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:31 PM   #230
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The street plan of the City of London is medieval, doesnt seem to have done much harm to it.
London burnt several times, I guess the last major fire was in 1854?

Street plan is just one of the elements. You can't have a modern city for multi-million population living in squalid conditions people lived in late 18th Century period.

Those cities in Italy that preserved somehow their volumetry, all of them, have populations living within their "old wall" perimeters far below the peak of ancient times.

Quote:
Youre like a broken record - banging on and on about how old is shit and how utopian ideas of the 60s are fantastic. These ideas have been proven as failures and nowdays pretty much everyone, but the hardcore Le-Corbusier fanatics such as yourself, agree that mass demolitions of historic city-centres for concrete nonsense and motorways was a mistake. There will be no return to those days.
My point is that you can't preserve all old building and street patterns. Some, maybe. But to create truly new things, we need to set the dynamite over some other areas.

Quote:
Thats simply wrong. We should care about these buildings for aesthetic reasons. House is not a machine for living in, its what differentiates one city from another, its what creates interest and drama in the urban environment. Aesthetics should always come first. It is no surprise that the very idea of preserving the old was born in the 60s - in the age of crime against architecture. Before that noone thought about it - new was better, in every shape and form, but nowdays new is often ugly and thats the problem. Contemporary architecture needs to improve.
Who decided what is "ugly" and what is "modern"? I left that decision to real estate market and developers, the ones with (financial) skin on the game, to speak of. Though we all have preferences, it is hard to say something is more beautiful than other in a scientific, hard-numbered, mathematically modeled way as we can model, for instance, energy efficiency of buildings, earthquake resistance, quality of water, air and soil etc.

As for creating "drama", I couldn't disagree more. Except for monuments or similar things, buildings are primarily functional objects. And the funcionality requirements of a medieval life are much different than those of today.

Take, for instance, those narrow alleys of Spanish and Italian cities portrayed here: they devoid most buildings of direct sunlight, which is bad in an age where we have aircon, sunscreen and the majority of our jobs don't involve sheer physical effort anymore.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 12:20 AM   #231
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Please Suburbanist, come here and visit with your own eyes how things perfectly works well in a traditional context. They just works amazingly well. The last thing you said, about lighness of roads, show us that you just does not know the reality of those street. You're taking about warm countries, the sun in summer is hot as hell, and those narrow street are a blessing, really. In nothern Italy we have a rather shitty continental climate and we have porticoes and arches to protect us from the rain. Aircones? In 15 years all those things will be universally considered a complete and useless waste of energy in a polluted planet. The future research in controlling hot/cold temperatures is going in a direction towards NOT LETTING IN the warmth/cold, a notion well present in the well built ancien stone houses, very very comfortable in the hot season, and not very much exposed to very cold temperatures in winter.
What to say? You're perfectly settled in the present. But is the future we're talking about. Which is all about reinventing the past and fixing a completely insufficient present.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 11:18 AM   #232
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arezzo

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Old February 24th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #233
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In Arezzo, besides the magnificent interiors of the Duomo,









I particularly love the romanesque church of Santa Maria della Pieve, very original architecture and setting...







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Old February 24th, 2012, 12:41 PM   #234
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showing the interiors you're opening the pandora's jar
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Old February 24th, 2012, 01:19 PM   #235
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
London burnt several times, I guess the last major fire was in 1854?

Street plan is just one of the elements. You can't have a modern city for multi-million population living in squalid conditions people lived in late 18th Century period.
It doesnt matter how many times it burnt down. Street plan survives from the Medieval times, in certain cases even the footprint of buildings hasnt changed and the 18th or 19th Century buildings are some of the most prized in London. Yet this hasnt stopped The City from being major financial centre and building some of the finest architecture anywhere. So your point that for city to be successfull you need straight wide avenues and bland concrete buildings is a false one.

Quote:
My point is that you can't preserve all old building and street patterns.
No-ones saying everything old should be preserved.

Quote:
we need to set the dynamite over some other areas.
Yes, the areas that have been raped by the 60s concrete-celebrating-maniacs, I agree.

Quote:
Who decided what is "ugly"
Leave it to good taste?

Quote:
I left that decision to real estate market and developers
Yeah and look what theyve created - some of the ugliest and blandest areas ever.

Quote:
Though we all have preferences, it is hard to say something is more beautiful than other in a scientific, hard-numbered, mathematically modeled way as we can model, for instance, energy efficiency of buildings, earthquake resistance, quality of water, air and soil etc.
No, its rather very easy - concrete monstrosities and dull glass boxes are ugly.

Quote:
As for creating "drama", I couldn't disagree more. Except for monuments or similar things, buildings are primarily functional objects.
No they are not, thats the idea of Le-Corbusier, and his ideas have been proven false. Indeed if he were right, no one would be lamenting the destruction of the old city centres and blowing up concrete nightmares at the ever increasing pace. Architecture is there to inspire.

Quote:
Take, for instance, those narrow alleys of Spanish and Italian cities portrayed here
Houses do not lack sunlight, but anyway narrow streets in those cities serve a clear function - providing shade from the intense and hot sun. If you go to the Mediterranean cities in summer youll soon realise that the wide boulevards are best avoided until the evening.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 11:08 AM   #236
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Houses do not lack sunlight, but anyway narrow streets in those cities serve a clear function - providing shade from the intense and hot sun. If you go to the Mediterranean cities in summer youll soon realise that the wide boulevards are best avoided until the evening.
Which was a valid proposition.... until air-conditioning came. That architectural solution is now moot and obsolete because we have better ways to deal with excessive heat (triple-glazed windows, positive air pressure buildings, thermal insulation materials embedded in walls, air-conditioning, glass panels that have capabilities of filtering UV etc.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 11:27 AM   #237
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Thanks for pointing that out. But I'll give you an example. I, as many around here I guess, suffer from headache when I came across strong air conditioning as the one we have in commercial centers and so on. There are studies from the WHO concerning the dangers of air conditioning in terms of infections (dirty filters) and in terms of temperature shocks, easily leading to Air conditioning is a solution but it doesn't offers you the shades this narrow streets offers you, and conditioning the outside is pretty foolish. Really, air conditioning is a valid solutions for those who can't afford ancientt, pretty, coloured, flowery narrow streets.
It's not obsolete, it's the future, since is based in sustainability and ecology.
It is simple, and it does not require any amount of energy. Simple as that.
In roads, the wider is often the worse, both in terms of aesthetics and in sense of liveability/genius loci. See motorways as an example, then go and check the touristical appeal of motorway and compare it with the numbers of small town tourism. There you can have a valid indicator of which one is prettier and more liveable.
Novilism is a XX century infatuation (or in some case even an illness) we're trying to correct now that we're in XXI to develop a new and better future shaped upon really human beings and really human needs.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #238
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Quote:
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Which was a valid proposition.... until air-conditioning came. That architectural solution is now moot and obsolete because we have better ways to deal with excessive heat (triple-glazed windows, positive air pressure buildings, thermal insulation materials embedded in walls, air-conditioning, glass panels that have capabilities of filtering UV etc.
You really have no understanding of anything, other than your weird utopian ideas that had been tried and failed. These streets and houses do their job perfectly well already, so if its not broken why fix it? Besides old houses have some of the highest green credentials of any building.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 07:41 PM   #239
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Italy is stunning!
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Old February 27th, 2012, 08:09 PM   #240
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Amazing pictures!

Can't believe suburbanist's dogmatic "everything is relative" attitude. You are far from begin the open minded progressive urbanist you think you are.
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