Is Urban Design Making Our Cities Sick?
The University of Canberra recently held a forum on urban design and healthy cities. A provocation was posed by the organizers at the final research seminar – it asked the question- was urban design making our cities sick? It was intended to provoke debate, and it did. A project officer from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) argued that design could provide the solutions to the city’s problems- especially its health problems. This bothered me as it assumed the city could be thought of as being in an unwell condition. A state on being sick and design was a cure- a panacea- a solution to the problem. After a few probing questions about how design reconciles competing priorities, the project officer offered no new answers, perhaps because this panel member vested all her faith in the power of design- or perhaps we weren’t asking the right questions.
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