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11 - Architectural Actions: 1 Billion to 100 Billion people in 200 years?

In order to face both the existing and incoming habitat crisis is imperative to consider how to re-balance the environment, rather than 'sustain' it; the verb sustain means to 'support, carry, stand, underpin' which in many ways defines an incomplete or unfinished situation; on the contrary, we must repair and rebalance in order to achieve a new ecological equilibrium. Even if we face the dramatic extinction of a large number or even most of the species, our species can adapt. Unfriendly decisions are required which, if applied, will not change the destruction path initiated, anyway, because the pre-human 'natural' scenario is long finished. We have to adapt to what is left. The inertia of the environmental damage produced cannot be stopped. Two actions should be taken: first, we have to eliminate all highly contaminant industrial production processes, optimising those who are less contaminant; second, we must change our precarious habitat conscience to avoid further damage in the future. Oceans, land and atmosphere have been modified beyond turning-back possibilities. As pointed before, according to the majority of experts and scientists, Geo-engineering (intervening climate in a global magnitude) does not seem to be an option, for the simple reason that we ignore how the planet will react. Agricultural lands, coastal and river populated areas will not remain the same, in fact, they have already changed dramatically within the last two hundred years. To re-balance what will be left must be our objective, and stop pollution forever, a command.

Human population was approximately 1 billion in 1800, 2b. in 1930, 3b. in 1960, 4b. in 1975, 5b. in 1987, 6b. in 2000, 7b. in 2010, it is expected 8b. in 2025 and between 9 and 10billion around 2050. None of the scenarios consider a terminal Habitat Change crisis where agricultural collapses after the Arctic becomes ice-free, which started to happen. At the moment if we consider the basic food requirements, only 70% of the population is able to eat and drink properly. If we take developed countries as a standard, only 30% of the population fulfil minimum nutriments per day; the projections for producing food for 10 billions are odd, because there is no more fertile land available, and in fact the world started to be affected not only by recent Climate Change (producing fast erosion, particularly where forest were replaced by agriculture, and close to the coasts), but to an alarming poisoning of the soil. The consequences of chemical pesticides like Phosphate fertilisers systematically applied to the same ground during 100 years or more is producing severe distortion in farms' response, where rotation -switching to different grains twice a year- proved not only insufficient but inadequate. One of the more tragic consequences is that bees are dying at a fast rate, about 70% of all bees in the world have disappeared. This is known as Colony collapse disorder, or CCD. A third of the world's food crops depend on pollination; without bees, there would be no apples or tomatoes, for instance. In many ways Frank Lloyd Wright considered these issues, and more, in his project Broadacre City. His teachings are like a strong column to start thinking and conceptualising our Survival City.

Frank Lloyd Wright - 1958, Broadacre City from The Living City.

The first issue is population. The wise old Greeks always thought, and put in practice, that a city should not be inhabited by more than 10.000 people. In those times, it was indeed a large number. One of the reasons, often overlooked, is that we cannot remember more than 10.000 faces; and we can, according to many references from University scholars, big organisations and also the army. The second issue is to get back -at least partially- to a self-sufficient agricultural society where industrialisation is applied to monitoring and research, rather than to extreme robotising expensive machinery for producing crops, fruits and meat. In other words, many people will be back into agriculture. Rather than specialisations in one subject, the population will have to specialise in many fields, for example one sub-item out of four activities: Earth Sciences (biology, geology, food production), education (philosophy, logics, anthropology, sociology, history) habitat (geography, architecture, urbanism and survival) and services (mobility, shops, repairs). Rather than professions, people will train and practice mètiers. Profession comes from Latin profess (declared publicly) and profitieri (pro "before" plus fatieri "confess"). Professionals seem to have the obligation to confess in public their knowledge, to give answers. On the contrary, mètiers, comes from Latin ministerium "service", which seems a better choice for the difficult times we started to face, to work silently pursuing a high moral objective: survival. In the picture above, the organisation of Broadacre City, clearly structured by mixing and integrating activities. Residencial, industries, offices, agriculture, leisure, they all appear well distributed, producing spontaneous interaction of different people. Conceptually speaking, not that different from a big Metropolis of the 1900's, but in this case following a low-density use of the land: this is clearly a suburb communal city. Below, photo of a model from The Living City.

Frank Lloyd Wright - 1958, Broadacre City, model from The Living City.

Frank Lloyd Wright anticipated that big cities in the late 20th and 21st centuries were going to have severe social and infrastructure problems. In the US, apart from a few spots in cities like New York (Manhattan, Brooklin) or San Francisco, it is not possible to walk after dark. Chicago, part of Wright's world in the late 19th century, is today one of the most dangerous cities: pupils' parents organise survilliance human-chains in the corners of blocks following the walking paths from and back from schools, to protect their children from sexual assaults and robbery. Beyond the US's "DNA" in relation with guns -remember Far West movies- it is also a fact that in South America and some regions in Africa the situation became even more critical. Why cities became so dehumanised? Are there more reasons, beyond drugs and urban violence promoted by media? The answer is yes.

Latin-Germanic Idealism: The Modern Movement

The grand times of the Beaux Arts, that proposed and built humanistic spaces where Man and Nature were the centre, are gone. Architects are also responsible. Part of the reasons is the Charte of Athens from 1933, produced in the so called 4th Congrés International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM), founded in 1928 by Le Corbusier (1887-1965) and Sigfried Giedion (1888-1968), who combined powers to recruit twenty European modernist architects with the sole purpose of destroying the world. In 1933, in that fatal trip on the S.S. Patris from beautiful Marseille to Athens, they managed to hypnotized the participants with the totalitarian thinking of Modernism: hygiene is beauty, space is mass, free ground floors, architecture is a social art... It seems Le Corbusier, who was Swiss, used his psychic persuasion powers to pour his ideas: demolition of well established historic cities (many world capitals and cities lost part or all their beautiful past, now unrecoverable), decentralization and severe social stratification (lack of interaction between classes and diversities, alienation), high-rise housing buildings (where people live like rats), functional zoning (that creates ghettos), endless highways, dissected gardens detached from the soil. His lackeys recorded all in this document, the Athens Charter, which then circulated in every architecture school in the world. The result: historical centres clearance, highways cutting cities in pieces just to collect waste underneath, non-walkable cities. The Chart was published in 1942 by Le Corbusier and Josep Lluís Sert (1902-1983). CIAM was dissolved in 1959. In those years French was the international language, J. Tyrwitt translated it to English in 1943; the translation was published by Harvard University's Library of the Graduate School of design. Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a gentleman and never spoke directly against other architects, was very critical of this ideas. Some of this European architects had delusions of grandeur. Those were not democratic times, but facist; and media helped promote the Charte all over the world. Most notably, it was very well received in Latin Americ, the land of the Counter Reformation... Well established capitals like Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro have been badly affected because of CIAM; the former, thanks to Argentina's redundant economical crisis, at least preserved most of its glorious magnificent Neo-classical architecture from 1890-1930, the latter was partially saved when the Brazilian capital was transferred to the brand new Brasilia, with the great institutional masterpieces of the Oscar Niemayer... but with a poor and impracticable urban plan, emulating Le Corbusier's.

Le Corbusier enchanting colleagues on the S.S. Patris, while enjoying the fatal trip that produced the Charte of Athens, 1933.

It is important to note that the diagnosis regarding quality of space, organisation, lack of green residential areas, insufficient means of transport (the word "mobility" started to be used in 1990) could be considered till certain extent appropriate, specially if we analyse how Europeans lived in some capitals and industrial cities at the turn of the century. However, the recommendation and solutions proposed favoured the development of cars and transport, that proved fatal for urban space; this Charte was the origin of the destruction of historical centres not only in Europe but in the Americas and other parts of the world. For instance, point 8 reads that the growing number of people able to travel to the centre of the cities is a consequence of new ways of transporting, which is obvious, but it completely seems to ignore what the soul of a Metropolis is, movement, integration, contact with everyone, creative chaos: "The advent of the machine age has caused immense disturbances to man's habits (...) an uncontrolled concentration in cities, caused by mechanical transportation, has resulted in brutal and universal changes without precedent [sic] in history". Chaos has entered into the cities." In 1933 only radio and news-reels (short film news projected in cinemas before the movies) were people's information sources, but not everywhere; the main sources were newspapers and magazines. In the Charte of Athens there is no mention of the anti-ecological aspects of industrial production, or the problematic of rubbish; the words habitat, environment, ecology, waste, pollution (in French: habitat, environnement, ecologie, ordure, pollution) are not mentioned. Certain issues were not present in media yet, but some renown philosophers, biologists or geographers would have stated that the direction taken by our civilisation was critical. From the urban organisation point of view, the general diagnosis was not completely wrong, but the proposals lacked an empirical approach, like in point 82: "The city should be examined in the context of its region of influence. A plan for the total economic unit -the city-region- must replace the simple master plan of a city"; this is partially correct: the city region plan must integrate, rather than replace, the master plan, but the analysis misses the different levels of interaction: pedestrian priorities, relation between sparse populated countryside areas, agriculture, forests and highly dense urban areas, all in direct contact with national, regional, and immediate neighbourhood mobility systems,. On the other hand some of this variables cannot be planned, there is a dynamic vector that rules and evolves the urban reality all over the years. What can be done -and has been done successfully in some capitals- is to re-orientate the zoning, persuading a particular sector of users into the overlapping the exploitation of certain areas, like transport of materials or tourists, to circulate in certain at certain hours, promoting differentiated spots towards trading or commerce or leisure. But the richness of the urban life has been and will always be the fresh interaction of different people, students, workers, sharing parts of the city. Here the transcription of the Chart of Athens:

THE ATHENS CHARTER, 1933 *

I. THE CITY IN ITS REGIONAL SETTING points 1-8
II. THE FOUR FUNCTIONS OF THE CITY
A. Dwelling 9-29
B. Recreation 30-40
C. Work 41-50
D. Transportation 51-64
E. Legacy of history 65-70
III. CONCLUSIONS 71-95

I. THE CITY IN ITS REGIONAL SETTING
1. The city is only a part of the economic, social and political entity which constitutes the region.
2. Economic, social and political values are juxtaposed with the psychological and physiological attributes of the human being, raising problems of the relations between the individual and the community. Life can only expand to the extent that accord is reached between these two opposing forces: the individual and the community.
3. Psychological and biological constants are influenced by the environment: its geographic and topographic situation as well as its economic and political situation. The geographic and topographic situation is of prime importance, and includes natural elements, land and water, flora, soil, climate, etc.
4. Next comes the economic situation, including the resources of the region and natural or manmade means of communication with the outside world.
5. Thirdly comes the political situation and the system of government and administration.
6. Special circumstances have, throughout history, determined the character of individual cities: military defence, scientific discoveries, different administrations, the progressive development of communications and methods of transportation (road, water, rail, air).
7. The factors which govern the development of cities are thus subject to continual change.
8. The advent of the machine age has caused immense disturbances to man's habits, place of dwelling and type of work; an uncontrolled concentration in cities, caused by mechanical transportation, has resulted in brutal and universal changes without precedent [sic] in history. Chaos has entered into the cities.

II. THE FOUR FUNCTIONS OF THE CITY

A. Dwelling
9. The population density is too great in the historic, central districts of cities as well as in some nineteenth century areas of expansion: densities rise to 1000 and even 1500 inhabitants per hectare (approximately 400 to 600 per acre).
10. In the congested urban areas housing conditions are unhealthy due to insufficient space within the dwelling, absence of useable green spaces and neglected maintenance of the buildings (exploitation based on speculation). This situation is aggravated by the presence of a population with a very low standard of living, incapable of initiating ameliorations (mortality up to 20 per cent).
11. Extensions of the city devour, bit by bit, its surrounding green areas; one can discern the successive rings of development. This ever greater separation from natural elements heightens the harmful effects of bad sanitary conditions.
12. Dwellings are scattered throughout the city without consideration of sanitary requirements.
13. The most densely populated districts are in the least favourable situations (on unfavourable slopes, invaded by fog or industrial emanations, subject to flooding, etc.)
14. Low intensity developments (middle income dwellings) occupy the advantageous sites, sheltered from unfavourable winds, with secure views opening onto an agreeable countryside, lake, sea, or mountains, etc. and with ample air and sunlight.
15. This segregation of dwellings is sanctioned by custom, and by a system of local authority regulations considered quite justifiable: zoning.
16. Buildings constructed alongside major routes and around crossroads are unsuitable for dwellings because of noise, dust and noxious gases.
17. The traditional alignment of houses along the sides of roads means that good exposure to sunlight is only possible for a minimum number of dwellings.
18. The distribution of community services related to housing is arbitrary.
19. Schools, in particular, are frequently sited on busy traffic routes and too far from the houses they serve.
20. Suburbs have developed without plans and without well organised links with the city.
21. Attempts have been made too late to incorporate suburbs within the administrative unit of the city.
22. Suburbs are often merely an agglomeration of hutments where it is difficult to collect funds for the necessary roads and services.

IT IS RECOMMENDED
23. Residential areas should occupy the best places in the city from the point of view of topography, climate, sunlight and availability of green space.
24. The selection of residential zones should be determined on grounds of health.
25. Reasonable densities should be imposed related both to the type of housing and to the conditions of the site.
26. A minimum number of hours of sunlight should be required for each dwelling unit.
27. The alignment of housing along main traffic routes should be forbidden [sic]
28. Full use should be made of modern building techniques in constructing high rise apartments.
29. High rise apartments placed at wide distances apart liberate ground for large open spaces.

B. Recreation
30. Open spaces are generally insufficient.
31. When there is sufficient open space it is often badly distributed and, therefore not readily usable by most of the population.
32. Outlying open spaces cannot ameliorate areas of downtown congestion.
33. The few sports fields, for reasons of accessibility, usually occupy sites earmarked for future development for housing or industry: which makes for a precarious existence [sic] and their frequent displacement.
34. Land that could be used for week-end leisure is often very difficult of access [sic].

IT IS RECOMMENDED
35. All residential areas should be provided with sufficient open space to meet reasonable needs for recreation and active sports for children, adolescents and adults.
36. Unsanitary slums should be demolished and replaced by open space. This would ameliorate the surrounding areas.
37. The new open spaces should be used for well-defined purposes: children's playgrounds, schools, youth clubs and other community buildings closely related to housing.
38. It should be possible to spend week-end free time in accessible and favourable places.
39. These should be laid out as public parks, forests, sports grounds, stadiums, beaches, etc.
40. Full advantages should be taken of existing natural features: rivers, forests, hills, mountains, valleys, lakes, sea, etc.

C. Work
41. Places of work are no longer rationally distributed within the urban complex. This comprises industry, workshops, offices, government and commerce.
42. Connections between dwelling and place of work are no longer reasonable: they impose excessively long journeys to work.
43. The time spent in journeying to work has reached a critical situation.
44. In the absence of planning programs, the uncontrolled growth of cities, lack of foresight, land speculation, etc. have caused industry to settle haphazardly, following no rule.
45. Office buildings are concentrated in the downtown business district which, as the most privileged part of the city, served by the most complete system of communications, readily falls prey to speculation. Since offices are private concerns effective planning for their best development is difficult.

IT IS RECOMMENDED
46. Distances between work places and dwelling places should be reduced to a minimum.
47. Industrial sectors should be separated from residential sectors by an area of green open space.
48. Industrial zones should be contiguous with railroads, canals and highways.
49. Workshops, which are intimately related to urban life, and indeed derive from it, should occupy well designed [sic] areas in the interior of the city.
50. Business districts devoted to administration both public and private, should be assured of good communications with residential areas as well as with industries and workshops within the city and upon its fringes.

D. Transportation
51. The existing network of urban communications has arisen from an agglomeration of the aids [sic] roads of major traffic routes. In Europe these major routes date back well into the middle ages [sic], sometimes even into antiquity.
52. Devised for the use of pedestrians and horse drawn vehicles, they are inadequate for today's mechanised transportation.
53. These inappropriate street dimensions prevent the effective use of mechanised vehicles at speeds corresponding to urban pressure.
54. Distances between crossroads are too infrequent.
55. Street widths are insufficient. Their widening is difficult and often ineffectual.
56. Faced by the needs of high speed [sic] vehicles, present the apparently irrational street pattern lacks efficiency and flexibility, differentiation and order [sic].
57. Relics of a former pompous magnificence designed for special monumental effects often complicate traffic circulation.
58. In many cases the railroad system presents a serious obstacle to well planned urban development. It barricades off certain residential districts, depriving them from easy contact with the most vital elements of the city.

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT
59. Traffic analyses be made, based on accurate statistics, to show the general pattern of circulation in the city and its region, and reveal the location of heavily travelled [sic] routes and the types of their traffic.
60. Transportation routes should be classified according to their nature, and be designed to meet the requirements [sic] and speeds of specific types of vehicles.
61. Heavily used traffic junctions should be designed for continuous passage of vehicles, using different levels.
62. Pedestrian routes and automobile routes should follow separate paths.
63. Roads should be differentiated according to their functions: residential streets, promenades, through roads, major highways, etc.
64. In principle, heavy traffic routes should be insulated by green belts.

E. Legacy of History
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT:
65. Fine architecture, whether individual buildings or groups of buildings, should be protected from demolition.
66. The grounds for the preservation of buildings should be that they express an earlier culture and that their retention is in the public interest.
67. But their preservation should no [sic] entail that people are obliged to live in insalubrious [sic] conditions.
68. If their present location obstructs development, radical measures may be called for, such as altering major circulation routes or even shifting existing central districts – something usually considered impossible.
69. The demolition of slums surrounding historic monuments provides an opportunity to create new open spaces.
70. The re-use of past styles of building for new structures in historic areas under the pretext of aesthetics [sic] has disastrous consequences. The continuance or the introduction of such habits in any form should not be tolerated.

III. CONCLUSIONS
71. Most of the cities studied present an image of chaos. They do not correspond in any way to their ultimate purpose: to satisfy the basic biological and physiological needs of their inhabitants.
72. The irresponsibility of private enterprise has resulted in a disastrous rupture of the equilibrium between strong economic forces on one side and, on the other, weak administrative controls and powerless social interests.
73. Although cities are constantly changing, their development proceeds without order or control and with no attempt to apply contemporary town planning principles, such as have been specified in professionally qualified circles.
74. The city should assure both individual liberty and the benefits of collective action on both the spiritual and material planes.
75. The dimensions of everything wi thin [sic] the urban domain should relate to the human scale.
76. The four keys to urban planning are the four functions of the city: dwelling, work, recreation (use of leisure time), transportation.
77. The city plan should [sic] determine the internal structure and the interrelated positions in the city of each sector of the four key functions.
78. The plan should ensure that the daily cycle of activities between the dwelling, workplace and recreation (recuperation) can occur with the utmost economy of time. The dwelling should be considered as the prime centre of all urban planning, to which all other functions are attached.
79. The speeds of mechanised transportation have disrupted the urban setting, presenting an ever-present danger, obstructing or paralysing communications and endangering health.
80. The principle of urban and suburban circulation must be revised. A classification of acceptable speeds must be established. A reformed type of zoning must be set up that can bring the key functions of the city into a harmonious relationship and develop connections between them. These connections can then be developed into a rational network of major highways.
81. Town planning is a science based on three dimensions, not on two. This introduces the element of height which offers the possibility of freeing spaces for modern traffic circulation and for recreational purposes.
82. The city should be examined in the context of its region of influence. A plan for the total economic unit -the city-region- must replace the simple master plan of a city.
83. The city should be able to grow harmoniously as a functioning urban unity in all its different parts, by means of preordained open spaces and connecting links, but a state of equilibrium should exist at every stage of its development.
84. It is urgently necessary for every city to prepare a planning program indicating what laws will be needed to bring the plan to realisation.
85. The planning program must be based on rigorous analytical studies carried out by specialists. It must foresee its stages of development in time and space [sic]. It must coordinate the natural resources of the site, its topographic advantages, its economic assets, its social needs and its spiritual aspirations.
86. The architect engaged in town planning should determine everything in accordance with the human scale.
87. The point of departure for all town planning should be the single dwelling, or cell, and its grouping into neighbourhood units of suitable size.
88. With these neighbourhood units as the basis, the urban complex can be designed to bring out the relations between dwelling, places of work and places devoted to recreation.
89. The full resources of modern technology are needed to carry out this tremendous task. This means obtaining the cooperation of specialists to enrich the art of building by the incorporation of scientific innovations.
90. The progress of these developments will be greatly influenced by political, social and economic factors. . . [sic]
91. And not, in the last resort, by questions of architecture.
92. The magnitude of the urgent task of renovating the cities, and the excessive subdivision of urban land ownerships present two antagonistic realities.
93. This sharp contradiction poses one of the most serious problems of our time: the pressing need to regulate the disposition of land on an equitable and legal basis, so as to meet the vital needs of the community as well as those of the individual.
94. Private interests should be subordinated to the interests of the community.

* Bibliographic Information: Congress Internationaux d'Architecture moderne (CIAM), La Charte d'Athenes or The Athens Charter, 1933. Trans J. Tyrwhitt. Paris, France: The Library of the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, 1946.

The Charte of Athens from 1933 was a lucid declaration of problems, very commendable at first sight, but most of its points presupposed that we had to established a Tabula Rasa (from Latin, "scrapped tablet", or "clean table") blank urban platform to create a new world, rather than renewing the existing, without realising that the logistics, construction and industrial methods available were destroying the environment, more than anyone could imagine. Because of this Chart, an immense amount of effort, money and historical patrimony was lost, forever. I think is is important, nevertheless, to state that it was not modern architecture that made our environment uninhabitable, but mostly the limitless bulky individual mobility paradigm (cars), infrastructure (routes, highways) and consumerist products (every possible unnecessary imaginable product made of plastic, that ends up buried on in the sea). A superficial vision, lacking common sense, very abstract and detached from nature, probably framed in Platonic or even Hegelian Idealism, can be observed in the next selection of points from the Charte, which I will refute:

Comments on the Chartre of Athens

Points 23 to 29 propose extreme zoning, detachment of housing from traffic, highrise apartments and open spaces in between, that have destroy the most beautiufl urban spaces in Europe and South America. The consequences of this were worst than the environment destruction produced by WWII:

23. Residential areas should occupy the best places in the city from the point of view of topography, climate, sunlight and availability of green space.
24. The selection of residential zones should be determined on grounds of health.
25. Reasonable densities should be imposed related both to the type of housing and to the conditions of the site.
26. A minimum number of hours of sunlight should be required for each dwelling unit.
27. The alignment of housing along main traffic routes should be forbidden [sic]
28. Full use should be made of modern building techniques in constructing highrise apartments.
29. Highrise apartments placed at wide distances apart liberate ground for large open spaces.

Points 35 to 40 insists on extreme zoning, which by definition excludes the richness of the multi-functional city, the humanistic city where people interact freely, everywhere:

35. All residential areas should be provided with sufficient open space to meet reasonable needs for recreation and active sports for children, adolescents and adults.
36. Unsanitary slums should be demolished and replaced by open space. This would ameliorate the surrounding areas.
37. The new open spaces should be used for well-defined purposes: children's playgrounds, schools, youth clubs and other community buildings closely related to housing.
38. It should be possible to spend week-end free time in accessible and favourable places.
39. These should be laid out as public parks, forests, sports grounds, stadiums, beaches, etc.
40. Full advantages should be taken of existing natural features: rivers, forests, hills, mountains, valleys, lakes, sea, etc.

Points 46 to 50 aggravates the idea of separation between administration and residential areas, suggesting that good communication (this means, cars) will link all. Unfortunately it happened and pollution increased exponentially.

46. Distances between work places and dwelling places should be reduced to a minimum.
47. Industrial sectors should be separated from residential sectors by an area of green open space.
48. Industrial zones should be contiguous with railroads, canals and highways.
49. Workshops, which are intimately related to urban life, and indeed derive from it, should occupy well designed [sic] areas in the interior of the city.
50. Business districts devoted to administration both public and private, should be assured of good communications with residential areas as well as with industries and workshops within the city and upon its fringes.

Points 59 to 64: they propose highways everywhere, using different levels... and green belts surrounding heavy traffic routes. This proved fatal, because the green belts produced rings that separated complete residential areas where people, that used to connect just by walking or trams, were forced now to use more cars.

59. Traffic analyses be made, based on accurate statistics, to show the general pattern of circulation in the city and its region, and reveal the location of heavily travelled [sic] routes and the types of their traffic.
60. Transportation routes should be classified according to their nature, and be designed to meet the requirements [sic] and speeds of specific types of vehicles.
61. Heavily used traffic junctions should be designed for continuous passage of vehicles, using different levels.
62. Pedestrian routes and automobile routes should follow separate paths.
63. Roads should be differentiated according to their functions: residential streets, promenades, through roads, major highways, etc.
64. In principle, heavy traffic routes should be insulated by green belts.

Points 65 to 70 refer with certain degree of common sense about protecting historical heritage architecture and cities, but suggest the demolition of slums in the historical centres (which is OK), specially those that surround historic monuments, to create open spaces (this ended in disaster: attracted scrupulous tourists to the centres, and depredated new open spaces have devaluated those).

65. Fine architecture, whether individual buildings or groups of buildings, should be protected from demolition.
66. The grounds for the preservation of buildings should be that they express an earlier culture and that their retention is in the public interest.
67. But their preservation should no [sic] entail that people are obliged to live in insalubrious [sic] conditions.
68. If their present location obstructs development, radical measures may be called for, such as altering major circulation routes or even shifting existing central districts – something usually considered impossible.
69. The demolition of slums surrounding historic monuments provides an opportunity to create new open spaces.
70. The re-use of past styles of building for new structures in historic areas under the pretext of aesthetics [sic] has disastrous consequences. The continuance or the introduction of such habits in any form should not be tolerated.

I consider myself a faraway disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright. The reason for bringing The Athens Charter here to critise Le Corbusier's conception or urbanism and society in general, clearly closer to a socialist-facist type of order: cold, abstract, numerical. It is imperative to understand why since 1933 our architectural community failed in the appreciation of sensible problems and systematically ignored what our eyes were watching year after year: scattered high-rise apartments growing like mushrooms, frantic real estate speculation, highways liberating the ground to marginality and rubish, sometimes in different levels and polluting the air till the limit of poisoning it, extreme social stratification and zoning in old and new cities, and a complete absence of ecological sense -apart from acknowledging that dwellings needed a minimum of sunlight per day- were just some of the terrible guidelines the architects gave to the world, to engineers, to politicians, to investors. On the other hand, it was easier to imitate the Modern Movement (so dogmatic) than Wright, whose thinking was more Empirical but spiritual in nature. The Modern Movement was responsible, together with many colleagues, for playing with idealistic ideas, mere theories that invaded the architecture schools all over the world and for almost hundred years helped developing an unsustainable environment. This happened at the same time that media and advertising, selecting visually striking frames of that reality, managed to convince hundred of millions to migrate to the cities. The world of Wright was too cozy, too sincere, somehow too different and with a strong relation with nature, at the end, it was real: you can smell it, touch it, feel pleasure in it. Indeed, urban reality still brings beautiful spots and corners in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Tokio, Moscow... but it is a matter of going away three or four kilometres to see the real city: impersonal, noisy, dirty, full of crime and madness, exploding with carbon dioxide emissions and chemicals, endless street advertising (to be seen from cars and from far) and often walking dead people surviving in the high streets, many trapped in drugs, living in solitude. Wright was right not trusting big cities; he also knew why the Modern Movement, regarding urbanims, was totally wrong, both in America and Europe.

Overpopulation in big urban areas has changed the perception of life: in big cities -generally speaking- our link with nature is missing, there are parks here and there, some big trees, but few people are aware about the cycles of nature. Most ignore such simple things like that all the planets orbit around the sun on an imaginary plane and when we look at the sky, sun, moon, and planets are aligned on one line, because we see them from inside that plane... The virtual world of Internet is making this worst. My concern goes beyond: in big cities (now called "megacities") something is missing, the link with our own spirit, our artistic spirit. Our relation with nature is gone, we observe nature on a screen. On top of this, a growing community of opportunist and bastards, and I refer to one of the most destructive professions, critics (please do not confuse with the great historians) became predators, baptising debased spontaneous expressions as urban art which I prefer to define as a low form of communication between sick people and Hell; or the so called deconstruction, a formal game that captured the minds of two generations of young architects, while habitat events started to get critical. But critics fed that situation, publishers sold millions of glossy copies of magazines, and indeed young architects like to be seduced by contemporary things. However, something contemporary is not necessarily new. In any case, the seed of that situation has expanded to the Internet. Art -with capital- used to be something different, it was a link between Man and the Universe, something we have lost long time ago. Where can we find the Universe here on Earth? In Nature and its order, in the knowledge of sciences, history and art, in classical architectural principles; architecture used to be the Mother of Arts par excellence, it had the ability to integrate arts and sciences, life and death, past and future.

Guidelines of my proposal of a new programme for Architecture teaching can be found here.

Read the next chapter, here.

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Top background photo: Sao Paulo, Brazil, aerial photo. Scanned from postcard, courtesy of N.P.A.

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