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Houston inside, slowly

By Lee Moreau


When Houston looks at itself, it is usually through a windshield. As Reyner Banham realized in Los Angeles, one must learn to drive in order to experience the city at the rate and scale in which it is continuously designed. The car is an appropriate analytical tool for investigating an urban condition in which large distances must be traversed quickly in order to maintain urban cohesion and experiential continuity. It is not necessary to slow oneself down in order to recognize the existence of other spaces, spaces that do not conform to general urban use patterns. One can "see" them at seventy miles per hour. What if the object of research is not spatial continuity, but rather, the very things that this space divides, omits, and jumps over? This urban residuum is not designed or used at breakneck speeds. It must be examined at a much slower pace---the speed of a bulldozer or, perhaps, a pedestrian---a relative crawl. To actually enter and investigate this space requires a wholesale elimination of the mechanisms that allow the city to operate in the first place. There are significant breaks in urban space that cannot be understood from the 30th floor or, even, from the sidewalk

Topics: Geography, Landscape architecture, Architecture, Urban planning, Regional planning
Year: 2000
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