Fishman contends, “…. the new city is a city a la carte.” A megalopolis based on time rather than space facilitated by the communication technologies, offers new ways of thinking about our cities bound by time and not distance. He further states that we operate within three basic networks allowing individuals to create their own connections – household network/consumption network and the production network – a city personalized without center or boundary. It calls for a fluid concept, which challenges the traditional notion of Suburbia and the post-war American dream of a detached single family home with white picket front yard.
We all know that the notion of romantic Suburbia is outdated as diverse groups of people make-up the urban fabric from Los Angeles to New York. The diversity of housing needs of the new demographics against the monotonous cookie cutter approach offers new opportunities to rethink the notion of Suburbia, Chan argues. The regulations that were put into place (Homeowners Association and Covenants) keeps suburbia frozen in times which has added to the challenges of American cities with surplus housing and big box buildings that have no use. The irony is that homelessness is more acute at a time when we have the most surplus in housing due to our own rigid laws. Whereas, living has always been a fluid concept: to adapt to the changing needs; we have been entrapped in it by our own shortcomings and capitalistic greed.
How can we as architects creatively think of strategies to play a critical role to shape the next phase of development. First and foremost, we need to be at the table with decision makers – policy crafters, government lobbyists and capitalistic players to create a vision for our cities that takes into account the humanistic perspective. Although architecture may not solve all the problems but we can certainly play a crucial role within a social and cultural framework to provide solutions that are relevant to our contemporary times.

About Connexion Studio

An accomplished artist and a reputable designer whose work explores the intersection of art and architecture to transform ways in which we experience contemporary physical and digital space to address many of the social, cultural and political issues of transnational relevance in order to create dialogue that is engaging and thought provoking in the public domain.
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2 Responses to Suburbia

  1. Narratives of Urban Dispersion

    Growing up in suburbia myself, most of these articles hit close to home, especially Robert Fishman’s article Megatopolis Unbound. For many who do not know Montreal very well or who have spent most of their lives growing up in or around the downtown core, the West Island of Montreal is seen as a whole other place, a farmland completely disconnected from the city. While this may have been true 20 years ago, it is no longer the case today. Everyday, empty lots are being purchased by developers and converted into new housing projects, condos, shopping malls, retirement homes, the list goes on. Many people are seeking to have the serene life style while still being connected to downtown (many people still work downtown), with two major arteries (highway 20 and 40) as well as two commuter trains and buses connecting the West Island to the city, making it more connected then people think. As Fishman explains, “office developments, and entertainment complexes rise where major highways cross or converge.” This is the case in the West Island, however these major complexes occur where the highway intersects with the major boulevards. At each of these intersections, shopping centers, major grocery stores and movie theaters can be found, and between these cross-section along the highway major corporations such as Pfizer have set up shop. Just as the dumbbell design of shopping centers, the design of highways follows this similar pattern.

    This notion of growth in edge cities and dilution of the downtown core is known as poly-nucleated (multiple centers). This ideology is occurring all around major cities, and as the “new city” starts to become overpopulated a newer city emerges on the edge of that city. This phenomenon is going on today in Vaudreuil. I myself remember Vaudreuil being nothing but land five years ago. Today it is becoming its own “self-sufficient world.” Because the West Island is starting to become too expensive for young families who still want their own property, Vaudreuil is the ideal substitute, with the same amenities that you would find on island. However its distance, being further out from the city and connected by only two bridges is what makes it cheaper. Yet, with more companies and businesses setting up shop in this area there is almost no reason to venture onto the island. The only question left to ask is, how far are people willing to go??

  2. The texts compare and describe the suburban landscape. I appreciated that the texts were linking the structure of the city or the suburb to its implication on issues of class and sex, especially Wall. The texts also explained how suburbs can be very exclusive in regard to the activities for example housing.
    I grew up in NDG next to several small shops, parks, a swimming pool and a public library all accessible by wall. I did not know much about the suburb until quit recently. What I found interesting is that the text describes the suburb not only in relation to its geographic position to the town but also by its shape.
    In my personal conception the suburb is very much defined by its form rather than location. If you need to take your car or a bus to buy milk or go to the public library you live in the suburb, if not it is a small town, the city or something else not the suburb.
    It is easy for me to understand why the suburb quickly lost its popularity.

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