Many times they weren't deliberately produced, nor was their deliberate design taught: they were the result of accretion layers built up over time as new structures are built next to & on top of existing ones.
They're not dying out through lack of appreciation, they're dying out because most times it's just plain cheaper to tear down the existing structure and rebuild.
Fire departments and fire codes are especially difficult to design around in tight spaces, as they can basically veto any construction that doesn't allow ample room for fire trucks to get around. The city also doesn't want to get sued for preventing the building from being built.
See the recent $800M MGM hotels settlement for the Las Vegas massacre. Expect more cameras, more searches, more cover your ass protocol. Not directly related to the article, but an example where one's first thought will be "how do I protect myself from being sued for any possibility in the future".
Edit: I looked into it further: MGM was insured for 751M for the payout and I suppose they figured an additional 100M to get it out of their hair was worth it. The existence of a settlement doesn't create a precedent, but I worry about these incremental movements towards a society where there is some expectation of invasive tracking.
The whole situation in America at this point is you're liable for anything and everything that could be connected to you (and definitely if it's on your property), but it only matters if you have assets you can have taken from you. So better hope you're big enough to protect yourself as much as possible with a team of lawyers.
Because someone has to be held accountable for the tragedy, and since we can't hold politicians, or the gun manufacturers accountable for it, you find the next person in line.
What happened to holding the shooter responsible?
They must have thought there was some possibility of legal liability, at least the the cost to defend with lawyers. But there shouldn’t be, in a sane world the suit would have been tossed immediately.
The payment was large because they had liability insurance that covered 7/8ths of it, and the plaintiffs realized it would be very easy to get them to pay at least that amount out.
I still don’t see why a hotel would be at all culpable, so I would love to see the analysis of the lawyers involved. It is not legal precedent, but it is precedent in the sense that if MGM’s lawyers thought it best not to fight it, then what can a smaller company do?
I love all those little shrines , for example. It's paradise for anyone who loves exploring nooks-and-crannies.
We had a (now shelved) plan near where I live to build 700 2 & 3 bed apartments in a new development with zero parking spaces in the design. This strikes me as blindly optimistic that of those 700 apartments (that will likely have between 2 or 3 people or more per apartment on average, so somewhere like 1500-2500 people) absolutely none of them will bring car with them... not even spaces for people who need a car for their disability!
I think their usual rationale of being "environmentally friendly" is really wake-washing/cover for wanting to fit in more apartments that sell for £650,000-1,000,000+ each, vs parking spaces which only sell for £25,000 each.
(incidentally is there a word for this willful ignoring of reality, where people basically just keep on repeating the same false/questionable statements as if they were genuine facts over and over regardless of any reasonable evidence to the contrary? E.g. this insistence that something is for environmental reasons when it is clear to everyone that it is not, or the rhetoric politicians keep on wheeling out for e.g. Brexit. I guess "lying"is one word...)
The fact that apartments cost more than homes means that the market values that area more highly for human habitation than for car habitation. Perhaps you simply can't afford to store your car there.
Also, what are you talking about? Lying? Please support your statement before leveling this accusation.
We had that happen near us 30 years ago by a developer who used a similar argument. A golf course was developed into 13,000 apartments with virtually no parking.
Overnight, the surrounding neighborhood’s streets were changed. Once they had been calm quiet places with plenty of parking. Now they are loud, crowded with double-parked cars blocking the street, blocked driveways, yelling and fist-fights. They’ve tried many thing to “fix” the problem. But 30 years later, the problems only gotten worse. It still sucks. Of course the neighbors will oppose it - label it NIMBYism or whatever you like.
But, we do have a problem and it would be great to actually change the status-qo. So, here’s a proposal:
*New buildings may be constructed without parking but _only_ if both of the following conditions are met:
1. The occupants are not allowed to own or operate motorized transportation of any type. This is enforced by the local police and the fines are huge.
2. 20% of the sales price of the new development is used to build mass transit.
First, why are only the people who "got there first" allowed to use the public streets for storing privately owned items?
Second, why not require that people who do have parking are only allowed to own as many motorized vehicles as can fit in their parking and cannot use the public right of way to store their private possessions, with huge fines?
It seems like we need more carrot and less stick.
So, the suggestion is not confrontational. It's going with the dream that the developer is suggesting. We'll never get there if the people who believe in the dream don't commit to it. People have to get around somehow. And if they aren't allowed motor vehicles, then they will push their politicians to invest in public transit.
I think what you're intuitively feeling is that developers don't actually have that vision. Instead, they want to freeload on parking that was provided by others and make life worse for everyone. A few weeks ago, there was an article in HN that suggested Los Angeles could solve their homeless problem by converting every parking spot into housing, which might be true. The idea seemed to be taken seriously with lots of comments supporting it. Yet, that would truly be confrontational and unbelievably disruptive. And kinda dumb since anyone with a map can see that Los Angeles is bordered by hundreds of square miles of open land to the north and west. Plus there's Griffith park, the stadiums, unused warehouses and on and on. So, one has to wonder - was the story truly written by someone who cares about the homeless? Or, was it a developer wanting to increase their profit margin?
If the vision is to get to something like this wonderful "nooks and Crannies" story, then the challenge is getting from the current situation to that vision. I'd love to see that vision come true. Unfortunately, I can't see is a humane way of changing many (most?) existing neighborhoods.
But, what could work would be to change zoning in large undeveloped areas to allow for much higher density housing, walkability, and to link them together via public transit.
> It seems like we need more carrot and less stick.
I feel like that suggestion is precisely more stick and less carrot. More carrot and less stick would indeed be to put some of the money toward public transit, or to build parking spaces for smaller vehicles (e.g. bikes/scooters, motorized or otherwise).
Often these "luxury apartments" that they build like this actually don't have cars so they are kinda right but for the wrong reasons: these sort of apartments in London are often bought by people for speculation/money parking/laundering and are actually never occupied (1) so it is more that the market values the apartments as assets/money laundering opportunities more than human habitation. Locals cannot afford to buy these sort of places.
1 - https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/20/uk-foreign-...
In London generally on-street parking is already at- or over-capacity, so adding an extra couple of hundred to a thousand people wanting to park their car in the surrounding 3 or 4 streets is not just NIMBY-style petty complaints of "I don't want someone parking outside my house" and so on, but more "there physically isn't enough space for even more people to try and park in the already over-capacity on-street parking - get a reality check, this isn't going to work".
I think there is a difference between those two responses
If I gave out free hot tubs then there would pretty quickly be a hot tub shortage. The problem is that parking is the leasing of public land for insanely low amounts for private property storage. You are forcing everyone around you to pay for your private property storage because you don't feel like paying for it yourself.
After all, can I pay the council the £100 a year (or whatever tiny amount it is) for an on-street parking spot so I can store my hot tub? Have a little garden? No? Then perhaps we shouldn't let you store your metal box there either unless you're willing to pay market rate for the land.
Keep in mind that any time you say developers must be forced to add room for parking, they were trying to add room for humans and NIMBYs told them places for cars to sleep were more important.
That's because you could use your same argument about any public service. We pay for it in spades through income and council taxes.
Deliberately semi-quoting your argument:
You get public services for an insanely low price (healthcare, firemen, police, libraries, schools) for your own private benefit. You are forcing everyone around you to pay for you to not die/not have your house burn down/not get robbed/learn/get your kids educated etc because you don't feel like paying for it yourself.
Can't afford your own healthcare/fireman/police/library/school? Then perhaps we shouldn't let you use them unless you are willing to pay market rate for the service.
For each service that is public there's usually a good counterargument. Is there one for public subsidizing of private car parking?
If you put cars right at the center of urban planning, you'll always build cities that require people to own cars.
So 4 to 5x25000 for parking spaces, or 4 to 8x650000.
Underground parking is possible but rare - you see it more these days, but then it costs significantly more than just a tarmac lot outside both to construct and to purchase a space in. Multistorey aboveground would take up space that would be used by apartments and would never get past planning approval in a residential area.
I think this is a pretty poor way of thinking that leads to US style cities where there are these "dense" urban areas that have oceans of lifeless areas and greatly increased cost due to the amount of space taking by car parking/storage areas.
An apartment costs significantly more than just a tent outside, too. We still choose to build apartments instead because they're easier to build vertically and they're more attractive.
> Multistorey aboveground would take up space that would be used by apartments and would never get past planning approval in a residential area.
You can always build apartments on top of the multistory aboveground parking. That's pretty common in San Francisco.
An ideal would be for every building to have parking underneath it at street level, and then for there to be an upper "street" dedicated entirely to pedestrian and bicycle traffic (and perhaps rail). It'd be a huge upfront cost (which is why very few - if any - cities actually do this), but it'd be a much better experience for pedestrians and drivers alike. It could also potentially pay for itself (by charging for parking), and having all cars underground could make it easy to recapture any automotive emissions (hopefully electric cars will mostly or fully displace ICE cars, but if not, then it's at least a lot easier to trap greenhouse gases in a tunnel than out in the open).
Christopher Alexander (of Pattern Language fame)
> Our goal is to help everyone make our neighborhoods places of belonging, places of health and well-being, and places where people will want to live and work. This has become possible through the use of Generative Codes, Christopher Alexander's latest work in the effort to make possible conception and construction of living, beautiful communities that have real guts -- not the sugary sweetness of pseudo-traditional architecture.
> The tools offered are intended for the use of ordinary people, families, communities, developers, planners, architects, designers and builders; public officials, local representatives, and neighbors; business owners and people who have commercial interests. The processes here are expressed in the belief that the common-sense, plain truth about laying out a neighborhood, or repairing one, is equally valid for all comers, amateurs and professionals. They help people build or rebuild neighborhoods in ways that contribute something to their lives. Many of the tools have their origin in 30 years of work published in Alexander's The Nature of Order.
This is the site that made me believe that the "unit" of human society is the neighborhood.
('"Atom" is the smallest amount of a phenomenon that evinces all of its properties.' G. I. Gurdjieff)
If you have one guy calling all the shots, then he will necessarily have a very abstract and simplified view and use simple patterns like straight lines and rectangles. There just isn't time for complexity.
If everyone has their own little piece to design and evolve as they see fit, then they will take into account the local factors and nuances.
Basically, she spent 4 decades disproving the "tragedy of the commons" in a whole set of defined cases, showing that a group of people DON'T selfishly destroy a commons when looking after it. She codified the requirements for a group of people properly governing a shared place/resource. Two of the 8 key requirements were 1) Local autonomy; 2) Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making authority (polycentric governance).
aka, powers must not be pulled too far from the place in which they are executed. to the extent that we need to seek efficiencies, system should offer through support from above to operate more efficiently (e.g., offer services and "kits" to self-manage). DO NOT CENTRALIZE OR CONSOLIDATE POWER.
Of course, the above recommendations can be discarded, but then collective governance fails, and keeping commonses alive and vibrant requires more and more central support systems to prevent its failure. Her rules are who you'd follow if you wanted decentralized and resilient governance structures and patterns.
In walking cities you interact with the city itself -- you can stop and look at things closely, walk into a small store you've never noticed before, run into a friend and chat, or pause and just people watch.
In car cities everything's far off and viewed through glass, your only interaction being which direction you point your car and how fast it moves. And becoming distracted by something interesting causes expensive and dangerous accidents. Plus, driving is inherently frustrating and exhausting, in my experience, especially when compared to walking which is at least a nice bit of exercise. You just want to be where you're going and WHY IS THERE ALL OF THIS TRAFFIC?
Or there is a change of jurisdiction, and one didn't require sidewalks and one did, often city vs. unincorporated county land.
In one way this makes sense since almost all customers arrive by car but it certainly makes the street visually unappealing.
EDIT: I wrote "arrive by foot", obviously it is arrive by car in suburban locations.
Lip service - just fooling the planning departments which sometimes seem to fall for the dumbest ideas.
Lower Manhattan has plenty of nooks and crannies. My father had a secret street that he would park on when he needed to visit Battery Park City. It was a little-known street maybe one or two blocks long that was perfectly legal to park on but that hardly anyone knew about because it didn't go anywhere. I went with him a few times, and we were the only car to park there.
Plenty of nooks and crannies can be found, even in grids. There are always irregularities and sacred cows to be worked around.
Also, Chicago has a lot of nice nooks and crannies. Including an ordinance that requires that a cattle path be maintained through some of its downtown skyscrapers, and an old barn at the end of an alley.
A good example of this is parking minimums, which make Manhattan-style density literally impossible in places like the SFBay.
We're obviously living in some of the safest times there's ever been, but that probably plays on some minds (alongside the "it's more efficient to build straight lines" part).
Part of this might be necessitated by the fact that we build most structures out of flammable materials, but with better fire-control technology (sprinklers) that could be mitigated.
It's amazing how often alleys/laneways are some of the most treasured parts of a North American city.
My city has caught on, and there are a bunch of car free streets and alleys being made in the CBD. They have boutiques and restaurants with outdoor seating, and it changes the dynamic of the area entirely. People are relaxed, not rushing, chatting with eachother without yelling . You get a lot more friendly encounters with strangers. It feels like you've reached some kind of special community area, just for you and the others there.
Oh the irony.
Who says they can't? The question being asked was "why are there no nooks and crannies". Those by definition only appear in dense places. You can't have a nook in a large empty field.
There was never a time where the average city dweller had a horse, let alone two or three. In 1915, there were est. 20M horses in the US, for ~100M people. There are way more motor vehicles per person nowadays.
It's been popular with plenty of folks for some time, like libertarians, fundamentalist Christians, environmentalists, etc. - I notice it's becoming more common among people concerned about climate breakdown, who are probably concerned that the support structures which make cities possible will fail.
Calling it unsustainable probably refers to half-assed homesteading, where you basically do some gardening on a big patch of land but still drive everywhere and use lots of energy. Homesteading (grow your own food, coppice trees for heating fuel, solar panels for electricity, ride a mountain bike to get around, etc) can have a very low carbon footprint.
Just doing the quick ugly napkin math for rough validation, Wikipedia says the world has roughly 14,000,000 km² of "arable land". If you convert that to acres and divide by the current global population, that's a little under half an acre per human. If the average family grouping were of size 4, that's only 2 acres of supposedly-arable land somewhere in the world per family. That's skipping over a whole lot of details and side-points, but still, it doesn't seem like this is a sustainable path for the whole planet to go down.
Grids, blocks, straight lines, clear boundaries, maintenance space, standardized signage, standardized safety and accessibility, standardized everything... these are all things which reduce TCO.
Non-standard, interesting, niche, characterful, bespoke, artisan, historic... these all carry hidden costs that manifest in property prices or taxes or inefficiency.
Everyone admires the aesthetics of the latter type of cities but not so many are willing to pay the price for them.
Plus nobody lives there anymore, really - they are all the owners’ vacation homes.
Most of the buildings were brick tenements built in the 1800s. One of its most famous native sons was Leonard Nemoy, who left the West End in his late teens to start his acting career.
The West End had narrow, winding streets, and the city government said this was a fire hazard because fire apparatus couldn't be driven down certain streets and alleys. That was true (I saw an old black and white picture of a fire truck that got stuck making a turn) but there was another motive in moving to have the tenements cleared and the area flattened: "Urban renewal." The city wanted other buildings built there, not to mention the elevated central artery. Over the strenuous objection of residents, almost everyone was cleared out and the buildings flattened from 1958 to 1960. The elevated highway, new hospital buildings, government buildings, and commercial structures went up in its place.
The history of the West End is covered by the West End Museum (https://thewestendmuseum.org/)
Leonard Nimoy was never able to go back home; his parents relocated to West Roxbury. The central expressway was demolished in the 1990s and the highway put underground (part of the "The Big Dig", see https://www.mass.gov/info-details/the-big-dig-project-backgr...).
Anyhow. The houses are each quite nice but the neighborhood itself is terribly soulless. It's like a locker room for people. The vibe was so creepy it was like a horror movie. You can check it out on street view: https://goo.gl/maps/ZGANULkeqQjKF6Yy6
Glass curtain walls are progress, civilization, and enlightenment. "Random puncturing" by contrast, is pernicious just from the sound of it. Romanticism.
It features a photo of a newer glass building from Washington, D.C., likely downtown or in the "Golden Triangle" south of Dupont Circle. There are no nooks and crannies to be found in that part of town, never were. DC has the highest proportion, by 3x, of properties with Historic Preservation designation of any US city. Most of the city was built according to the L'Enfant plan which specified wide streets and strips of green space in front of buildings (they look and are maintained as front yards, but these "public parkings" are owned by DC and not private property, and must be maintained as green space).
I like the approach advocated by the Strong Towns movement: allow the next increment of development by right, everywhere. So a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes should allow accessory dwelling units (mother-in-law apartments) and conversion to duplexes by right. A neighborhood of duplexes should allow conversion to triplexes or quadplexes by right. A neighborhood of those should allow conversion to even denser development like townhomes, and multiplexes, etc. This allows a town or city to grow gradually and naturally.
The way they put it is, "No community should have to experience extreme change... but no community should be exempt from change". Wanting to build massive towers to address housing shortages is not ideal, but it's an understandable reaction, when it's illegal to address the shortage by having every neighborhood in the city "thicken up" a bit.
This is how the great cities we love all over the world became great -- through gradual, incremental change and intensification.
New builds don't really consider the pedestrian or the neighborhood, and are generally hostile to the cohesiveness of the area. They are massive and take up sometimes the whole city block (while only building 5 or so stories generally), and the only way to bypass them is to go all the way around them which can take 10 minutes sometimes (vs. like 2 if there was a cut through).
Due to the homeless, most apartments also gate their parking lots so you can't cut through there either. My current apartment is one of these places and walkability is severely limited because there are only two exits (despite the place taking up nearly a block). If the surrounding fencing was removed or at the very least I had an exit on every cardinal direction and not just to the east and south west, I'd be able to walk to the subway that is NNW of me 10 minutes faster(calculated by google maps).
I am sure all the subscribers to that magazine have smart phones. But it’s a magazine that takes a conservative stance.
They're not ranting against semiconductors or antibiotics (both also relatively modern), are they?
They led the charges against the scientific revolution when it threatened to subvert authority & mechanisms of control, strongly opposing Copernicus, Bruno, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Opposition to Darwin continues to this day in some quarters. And antipathy towards modern advancements in reproductive health is still very strong.
In any case, if conservatives come at modernist styles of expression & ornamentation, they should bring receipts. Or their arguments will smack of the notorious cries of "moral degeneracy" for which conservative thought is justly infamous.
In this case, I feel like the author is found wanting and the article unworthy of HN. There are amazing, actionable critiques of dehumanizing trends in architecture and urban planning (Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander), but this is not one of them.
About as modern as the steel-and-glass/nookless style he criticizes, that gained prominence after the World Wars [1,2].
Ignoring the guilt-by-association/ad-hominem part of your post, what do you find so lacking in his critique? I'll grant that it's a long-winded way to say "it's ugly, sterile, and unpleasant to live in", but I'd say that's a valid (if subjective) complaint. What sort of critiques did Jane Jacobs and Christopher Alexander make? I'm very curious.
tl;dr - human instinct guides us to prefer aesthetics with a certain "fractal dimension" (measure of repeating patterns across scales, ranging from 1.0-2.0) that mirrors the dimensions found in nature: 1.3-1.5
This sort of symmetry is the signature of living and biodiverse places. We are hardcoded to prefer it, through deep history.
My read on this is that we're finding solace in manufactured landscapes that fall within this range, and nooks help create this balance of chaos and order. The places we build outside this range subtly increase our stress.
The place I've visited where this struck me most, was Juifen, the Taiwanese mountain town that inspired Spirited Away. Walking through the long market "tunnel" was like walking along a forest path -- you'd look up and there's be many layers of canopy and hanging vines and accreted layers of human intervention. It felt so organic and layers and mentally energizing.
Disclaimer: failed biochemist and evolutionary geneticist.
Ken: Alcoves, yes. Sometimes.
Yuri: There are not many people around in these alcoves at Christmas time. If I were to murder a man I would murder him here. Are you sure this is the right word, alcoves?
Ken: Alcoves, yes. It's kind of like nooks and crannies.
Yuri: Nooks and crannies, yes! Perhaps this would be more accurate. Nooks and crannies rather than alcoves. Yes.
That said, if anyone knows of an architecture school or architect that is investigating "modern" community housing that is people focused and not 'car' focused I would love to look at their work.
Also, of "Golden Guy", a Burning Man cluster of micro-camp groups that creates a Golden Gai type experience each year.
There are: owners, the public and law enforcement.
In SF there were (and are) laws against panhandling, being a nuisance, harassment, etc., yet owners and or business people had to pressure for additional laws (known as sit/lie laws) because police were not enforcing existing laws and some people were abusing and taking liberties. Yes there is an aspect of social failing in this, but local businesses and residents should not have to bear the brunt of this.