Friday, May 24, 2013

Back to the Future

"...Homes like these,  at the ugly edges of urban sprawl, the search for a home nestled in nature, often ends in the empty repetition and tasteless sterility of a suburban tract development. Instead of delighting in natural beauty, urban sprawl defiles it. ..What is the future of the single family home?  'There’s no future to that, because the cost of services to the house is growing by such leaps and bounds, that the taxes on it can no where near pay for the services that the town has to put there, the water, the sewer, the roads…what is interesting is, the push to the city.'” 

The conclusions of a Vibrant NEO 2040 forum of the NEOSCC? Nope. Try the 30 year forecast of renowned architect Phillip Johnson, talking with Walter Cronkite, in 1967.

Watch the entire video if you have the time. Many of the predictions are laughable, as these usually are from the safe distance of nearly half a century.  Even the ones that are almost dead on miss the mark because they fail to take other future developments into account (see the part about the home office for a good example.) 

The point is that straight line projections based on past performance are always flawed, especially when human nature and technological developments are involved.
I'm not advocating that we not look forward - just that we not selectively use  the past as our only predictor for the future.  That's  why work like NEOSCC/Sasaki's is lazy and politics driven.  Like architect Johnson in the video promoting his ugly high rises of the future (pictured below) or the other guy with his cold concrete adobe bunkers from Expo '67,  they are promoting their visions of the way things ought to be, and then making the facts fit that outcome.

They have been predicting the decline of the single family home, the unsustainability of suburbs from an environmental and economic perspective while forecasting the rise of the cities for almost fifty years!

They can't predict it with any more certainty now than they could then. The only difference is a political agenda that is creating the "urgency" now. 

If you don't have time for the entire video, the money quotes are at 2:00 and 23:00. 

Johnson gives us a candid assessment of the urban future he saw for us as shown: "you spend all your days working in a labyrinth, you see, you're going to spend all your nights there, too. We're just going to make it as tolerable as possible."

Onward, to a "tolerable" future!

No comments:

Post a Comment