Sunday, April 16, 2017

crow in gotham

In the past couple of years I've preferred not going anywhere near Halifax's downtown for the simple reason it's undergoing what appears to be an unrestrained building boom. In a fairly small city such as this one erecting huge buildings that cover the entirety of square blocks, buildings made of concrete and steel with glass curtain walls, has a brutalizing effect both physically on the local environment and psychologically on the populace. That Halifax is a major destination for tourists wanting a glimpse of the historic maritimes lifestyle is another factor making these projects appear counterintuitive.

Since we couldn't find a spot downtown not covered by construction equipment we decided instead Crow would pose in  Anton Furst's conception of Batman's Gotham City. It seemed appropriate. 

"Modernism is damaging to all cultures, yet those that are wealthy can and do periodically escape its suffocating effects. They possess other sources of emotional nourishment. But it is the economically impoverished cultures dependent upon the industrialized West, and those that are subjected to “soft oppression” by the dominance of the global media, that suffer most deeply. They have no way out. Their own elites are forcing the modernist dogma down their throats."
~ Nikos Salingaros

“The type of work which modern technology is most successful in reducing or even eliminating is skilful, productive work of human hands, in touch with real materials of one kind or another. In an advanced industrial society, such work has become exceedingly rare, and to make a decent living by doing such work has become virtually impossible. A great part of modern neurosis may be due to this very fact; for the human being, defined by Thomas Aquinas as a being with brains and hands, enjoys nothing more than to be creatively, usefully, productively engaged with both his hands and his brains.”
~ E.F. Schumacher

So you want us all to go back to the Stone Age?
The word “back” is a trick. It implies a magical absolute direction of change. Suppose you go to your job, and when you get ready to leave, your boss says, “So you want to go back to your house? Don’t you know you can never go back? You can only go forward, to working for me even more, ha ha ha!” Really, all motion is forward, and forward motion can go in any direction we choose, including to places we’ve been before.
~ Ran Prieur 

Long before it was an area of study, dictators took advantage of the impact architecture can have on the mind. By creating architecture at a monumental scale, rather than a human one, they inspired fear and awe in their citizens. By destroying the individual scale of a city, the tyrant believed he could usher in a new age. While fascism went out of fashion after World War II, the style of architecture did not, and now you can see that type of monumental building in cities around the world.

If the human scale of any given environment is defined by its community, then the outcome will be a human scale city. 


  1. Replies
    1. Best wishes for Easter in return, dear Tom.

  2. Hi Susan,
    Talk about building booms the eye-popping statistics for the boom in high rise apartment buildings along just the east coast of Australia means we have more cranes servicing this construction than the sum total for all major cities across North America.
    I do agree Architecture can have a much more profound effect on our disposition that we generally realize. Seeing something beautiful and well designed not only raises out sprits but contributes to our wellbeing in a practical sense to achieve much better social outcomes. When I was in Europe I was struck by a huge sign on the banks of the Danube which said “ better to spend 10 times the cost to restore a 400 year old building than to build a new one” – I agree with that but the question arises who is going to pay for it ? Maybe the tourists!
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      Yes, we're read about the massive building boom going on in your part of the world. Imagine the furore if there was a plan being put in place to pull down the Parliament at Westminster to replace it with a steel and glass box. That would surely be cost effective compared to the repairs being considered but the loss would be profound at every other level.
      All the best