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Professional Practice
 
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
It seems that there is disconnect between the up-to-date scientific knowledge in urban design and planning, and what consultant (particularly some western consultant) proposing for the developing cities. Although the Modern Movements approach to urban planning (high-rise blocks set in open spaces and motorways)is discredit in the west, however, many new urban planning projects proposed for developing cities by western consultants use that approach!
Faisal Hamid
Responses
 
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
yes, that is very much the case, and it seems to be repeating itself wherever there is a development. there's so much marketing resources poured into it even. why, i wonder, is that not happening to other development models that you find "more-attuned" to localities?
Benito Castiglione
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Faisal, This issue is very important topic since it is a common fact in almost all developing countries. The developing countries have got this problem because of the cultural gap between developing and developed countries. For developing countries, the image of modern city is totally dominated by fashion style architecture that is promoted by shallow life principles. I believe, media has a very strong role in this situation directly and indirectly. Schools of architecture in developing countries are also responsible in this because they failed to develop local alternatives of architectural education to solve the local needs. I believe this problem cannot be solved without a real support from local authorities to correct this problem since they are the key players in the applied rules, urban plans and projects.
Hoshiar Nooraddin
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
I agree with you Hoshiar regarding the role of local (and national) authorities. In most western countries, consultants work within a range of restrictions in the form of building regulations, urban design guides and master plans, which is based on the best scientific research and objective knowledge and practice available. However, the contradiction is that many of those consultant are from the (Modern Movement) generation and deep-rooted in its dogma, and are unsympathetic to these restrictions.

In many cases when I meet some of those consultants and I ask the question (what do you most like in working in the developing cities); almost always the answer is (to break free from the frustration of planning regulation and red tape, to have the chance here to dream up skyscrapers and even entire cities). What they are really saying is to break free from science and objective knowledge and to practice architecture and planning according to the Modernism dogma: Any question relating to the built environment, a design of a door handle, or a city, is mostly an artistic project and a challenge to the imagination.

So, unless developing cities let up-to-date planning regulation to be established, we will see those (out-dated) professionals unleash there imagination and dream-up ridicules projects for developing cities.

I whish some of our readers of this forum will contribute example of such projects.
Faisal Hamid
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Faisal, The Avante Garde viewpoint on design is that people do not matter, particularly the people who have to work and live in their designs.

In fact the more unusable the design the better, because such design is always "ground-breaking" rather like trying to design square wheels when there are round wheels available.

In terms of modern movements, the Avante Garde of about 90 years ago opened the door to utopian skyscraper fantasies which did not work then and still do not work because they create social urban alienation and urban anti-social behaviour. So much so that for the past decade these "squalid slums in the sky" have been abandoned and then destroyed in the West. Need I say more than that the lifts in skycrapers end up being used as toilets.

Unfortunately, once having created these breeding grounds for anti-social behaviour, it is difficult to take this negative social conditioning out of the equation, because too many people have been adversely affected for any solution in the short term.

So I would say that having outstayed their welcome in the developed countries, these advocates of the old Avante Garde ideas of the 1920s, etc have moved to developing countries.
Frank John Snelling
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Ten years ago I was involved in decision making related to developing Oslo Waterfront and among the ideas was building high rise buildings. We had endless fighting between those who tried build the high rise blocks with those who denied that. At the end low rise was the winner for many reasons, social, economic, environmental and democratic reasons. During the debate all what we discussed was published by media and normal citizens had chance to contact us and say their meanings. They also could arrange their own meetings and seminars to discuss things that we discussed. Public media was a very active mean to help that communication take place. Schools of architecture and different organizations had same active involvement during the whole process. We as authority were obligated to read and update us with the public and other different interest groups said and did. The final decision reflected a social democratic process that functioned in best way. If such process or at least similar process can exist and practice (HONESTLY) then high rise blocks will get a totally different reality.
See
http://www.prosjekt-fjordbyen.oslo.kommune.no
Hoshiar Nooraddin
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Thats incase the city is applying help from 'state government cooperation' ....


First Class works could be expensive to...City funds...
Sher Saddozai
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Frank, Hoshiar, thanks for your contribution, I apologise for not taking time to answer, or to add some thoughts, to your topic text yet.
Faisal Hamid
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Faisal, as a footnote, I have noticed that humans have the tendency to push the boundaries of whatever is available; for example the modern megablast music machines are cranked up to maximum (causing long-term hearing damage), not because it adds to the quality of the music, but because the noise level is available.

In the same way, because reinforced concrete is available there is the human tendency to build ever higher constructions without any thought of social damage.
Frank John Snelling
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
First, wish you all a joyful New Year on this first day of 2011.

Frank, you put it so well in your contribution (19th Dec.). It is true that those old Avante Garde (I call them the Orphans of the Modern Movement) seems mostly working in the developing countries. If one Google most of their recent work (or proposals), one find it in places such as Beijing or Dubai, as they find the developed countries "matured" design markets unwelcoming.

Hoshiar point out to a very compelling example of the process of decision making in a mature design market. The involvement of the media and normal citizens in Oslo Waterfront project, which Hoshiar described is an example of how people in mature design markets feel that their environment is worth caring about and it is not an experimental ground for "ground-breaking" designs.

In our Middle East Market the problem is huge. We have droves of "Orphans of the Modern Movement" with all their flashing lights and the beating drums of the business world and media, coming with there futuristic "ground-breaking" design projects.

However, my worry really is not that if an office building is design to look like a spaceship or a dancing snake, this can be seen as a subjective view; but what worries me is the amount of high-rise housing towers being built. We know from previous experience that these do not work, and most of it will be, as Frank put it "squalid slums in the sky", unusable and unrepeatable.

I will post here examples of such housing projects, but I hope some of the readers also will contribute with examples of some of these "ground-breaking" designs.
Faisal Hamid
Are we getting "second class" western consultants in the developing cities?
Faisal, You might like to consider the ridiculous reasons for the building of skyscrapers which are a mixture of greed and ego; greed because such towers allow for the packing ever-higher densities of people into ever-smaller areas and this means mega rents for the owners; and the usual ego trip of have a bigger, higher, status symbol than everyone else.

But because these towers create cities with ever-higher densities of people, then the infrastructure and services of the city (transport of goods, water, waste, power and people) becomes ever more important and ever more less accountable to the people.
Frank John Snelling
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