August 17th, 2011

Eisenman's BMX track in Spain

To my mind, buildings like these foretell those we will be building soon with cycling in mind, as cycling is increasingly seen as a panacea for every societal ill. Fair enough too, given cycling really does aid public health, urban mobility and the depletion of fossil fuels. The trend toward undulating ground planes, that are often roof planes without us ever being aware, suggests a plane designed to help riders speed up to travel, and slow down to stop. And let's not forget how much fun we will have.

Help me Pooh Bear!

20 years after plans were adopted for a continuous waterfront promenade in place of my city's old docks, I see bulldozers on site. It seems they just had to wait for a development hiatus (courtesy of the GFC), and for the completion of acres of surface car parking, right next to the water, on land earmarked for mixed-use development. At least if they had planted trees, no one would have complained about later having to come back and remove them. But taking away all these new car parking spaces, should someone wish to develop? That could be more of an issue.   

However, it is the sheer banality of the postindustrial city that most inspires me. I cling to what I can remember of The Tao of Pooh, lest I start feeling despondent. The mature palm tree someone paid thousands for. The public art as a substitute for reasons to come here. The security fencing and brightly coloured hazard plaques serving to remind us how the city is in a constant state of becoming. Why not make them permanent fixtures, I wonder? Why not plant warning signs, or better still genetically engineer bright orange trees that say, "Warning, Tree." Oh and while we're warning people of hazards, how about signage all over the bike lanes, that they are deadly? Or is this the one case where a danger is so obvious as to not require stating?

So now I'm watching a before and after montage of the area, wondering if I'm supposed to be liking the "after" shots more, or the "before" ones. You tell me. I'm confused.