06 February 2009

Middle Class Duany and the Environment

...What then is this world of the New Urbanism, and why is traditional architecture important to it? There are many reasons, but the primary one is that because traditional architecture is a common language of the American middle class... The enormous American middle class is the group that really matters, and yet they are the only consumers of architecture not addressed in the modernist schools or the professional periodicals.

...the middle, class unlike the poor, the market gives choice -- and given choice they choose traditionalism. Their ability to evade the modernist discourse (which the poor cannot do) confuses architects. But it does not confuse us. ... we enlist the middle class to our cause, which is to have them inhabit again a walkable, compact, and diverse urbanism.

... the lifestyle of the American middle class is the root cause of the environmental problems of the world today. It is that simple. It is the way we supersize our habitat, the way we consume as entertainment, the way we drive around to do ordinary things, the way we so freely allocate land to our use, and even how we choose to eat... It is this lifestyle, and now its export version ... which is responsible for the environmental problems we will all suffer...
-Andres Duany

3 comments:

justforview said...

Whether you agree or not he is an arrogant one. I would question the middle classes preference for tradionalism. Are McMansions traditional? Even the more humble abodes of the middle class are less traditional than they are a hybrid modern-traditional aesthetic.

Which shows me that New Urbanism's arguments are often predicated on a dichotomy between modern and and traditional, which is really a device of academics and doesn't reflect the reality, which is that there is no such thing as style.

In the words of a well known graphic designer. Style=Fart

CityKin said...

yes arrogant. but is he really an academic, and why does he generate such disdain? I actually think he is arguing against style, arguing that we should learn from tradition.

His words here are spoken to other New Urbanists trying to move them towards traditionalism, because there are modernists in the group.

The middle class has repeatedly rejected modernism in the form of minimalist undecorated boxes. They/we prefer things that are prohibited in the rules of modernism such as: decoration, gabled roofs and ornamentation.

justforview said...

Your right, he is not an academic, but a salesman posing as an intellectual. He uses rhetoric that isn't logical, confusing aesthetics with ideology and market forces with consumer preferences. It all sounds good coming out, but if you place it in a larger context it quickly falls apart.

I think his disdain for ideas other than his own creates disdain for him. I have heard him speak in a few places and met him in a studio, where he was invited to talk about our project, but focused on himself for an hour. Geesh, he invites disdain. How can anyone tolerate him?