Sunday, March 30, 2008

Salingaros on human scale

Next American City has posted an interview with Nikos Salingaros and James Howard Kunstler. On a general note, the magazine provides a refreshing alternative to the available conventional and slick architecture magazines: 
NAC: So we can learn something from the developing world?

NS: Oh, we learn the most fundamental things about human scale. We so-called civilized or more technological people have lost the human scale. And if we only learned that single thing it would transform our cities overnight. Respect for the human scale includes pedestrian links. But more than that, it’s the human scale, the range of human scales, from the size of a finger to the size of the head, to the size of a human body, to the distance of a short walk.

NAC: That’s what you’ve called “fractal.”

NS: Right. A fractal hierarchy of scales, which we have eliminated from our cities. If we can reintroduce them in the physical structure and then accommodate them in the physical structure to human beings who want to walk three meters, and who want to lie against a low wall, sit on a low wall, sit on a bench. Now we eliminate them, because we think, “This place will be invaded by vagrants.”
I tried to buy a book by Salingaros, a heterodox outsider, from an architecture bookstore in San Francisco, but they had stopped carrying it, in part, they said, because Salingaros's favorite architect is "Charles." "Charles?" I asked. 
"Yes," the clerk said. "Prince Charles." 
Prince Charles is a traditional urbanism supporter who supports Leon Krier, which didn't match the store's more modern focus. For whatever it's worth, I don't think his favorite architect is Charles, but Charles stood for something greater in the context, and the clerk's meaning was clear enough.

3 comments:

David Sucher said...

Your anecdote about the architectural store in San Francisco is very funny but not at all surprising if I am thinking of the same store because despite it's name I don't think it's really very well-rounded.

bill said...

i'm very interested which bookstore this is in san francisco

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