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the entropic city.

This evening I went to a conference session about Mumbai/Bombay, at the Grad School of Design at Harvard.  It was part of a conference called “In the Life of Cities,” and it was stuffed with fascinating observations about the this “kinetic city,” whose very dynamism generates a kind of paralysis.  The breakdown of government structure and infrastcuture to provide everything from housing, sanitation, not to mention the rule of law, has generated a kind of urbanism of necessity that empowers slumlords and thugs, real estate developers and a cloistered industrial elite, but also turns out an inspringly high proportion of the urban poor for elections and, as I have experienced it, generated a disarmingly complex and exciting city. Okay, this may have occurred to you already, but I was surprised to realize as I listened to and reflected upon these talks that this kind of city, characterized by a profound and uncontrollable (by definition) entropy, is exactly what I think is the key to revitalizing communities.  In the kinds of cities and neighborhoods that I …

from the archives: holiday markets and christmas decorations.

As promised, here’s a brief roundup of holiday markets and decorations.  I think it’s such a cool way that cities transform themselves temporarily.  I’ve been thinking a lot about temporality in urban spaces and this seems like a good way to get started on saying something concrete about it.  The holidays are such a unique temporary intervention because they last so much longer than your average festival, so they really permeate the feeling of a place.  Where are your favorite holiday decorations? Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have also been thinking about the ability of *snow* to transform our experience of urban space.  I find I talk to other pedestrians more often, as we negotiate narrower walkways and uncrossable mounds of ice at intersections.  Maybe that’s a small silver lining, but I’ll take what I can get.