"Why is it that so many designers have conceived cities as trees when the natural structure is in every case a semilattice? Have they done so deliberately, in the belief that a tree structure will serve the people of the city better? Or have they done it because they cannot help it, because they are trapped by a mental habit, perhaps even trapped by the way the mind works -- because they cannot encompass the complexity of a semilattice in any convenient mental form, because the mind has an overwhelming predisposition to see trees wherever it looks and cannot escape the tree conception? I shall try to convince you that it is for this second reason that trees are being proposed and built as cities -- that is, because designers, limited as they must be by the capacity of the mind to form intuitively accessible structures, cannot achieve the complexity of the semilattice in a single mental act. [...] For the human mind, the tree is the easiest vehicle for complex thoughts. But the city is not, cannot and must not be a tree. The city is a receptacle for life. If the receptacle severs the overlap of the strands of life within it, because it is a tree, it will be like a bowl full of razor blades on edge, ready to cut up whatever is entrusted to it. In such a receptacle life will be cut to pieces. If we make cities which are trees, they will cut our life within to pieces."Wow!
27 December 2012
A City Is Not A Tree ~ Alexander on Semilattices
Christopher Alexander's A City Is Not A Tree where he decries the overly simplistic rules dominating (and debilitating) urban planning and design...