Posts tagged Bill Hybe

Houston Texas interstate highway; photo from Alan Berger's "Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America".

Houston Texas interstate highway; photo from Alan Berger’s “Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America”.

In our previous post, we read about the typology of wasted surfaces in the urban environment. Professor Alan Berger and writer of Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, also comes up with a new manifesto for those professionals who would like to venture into the drosscape practices. Today we present a ‘quommentary’ on each of these points, approaching it from the landscape architecture perspective.

The Drosscape Manifesto:

1. “Dross is understood as a natural component of every dynamically evolving city. As such it is an indicator of healthy urban growth.”

Our quommentary: Many have written “never judge the past by the standards of today”. Presentism asserts that current morality is the only valid one. This is fallacious. We have to embrace the industrial processes as what they are, a reflection of progress. We have to acknowledge and accept the fact that industrialization, in some way or another, will always exist. How this process is performed is a whole different topic, and of course, here we can look into all the currents and practices that seek out more sustainable results. Before judging or going rampage against any infrastructure projects or blocking the possibility for progress, we should consider exploring all options that answer how this project can be more beneficial for the environment, for the community, and for the local economy.

2. “Drosscapes accumulate in the wake of socio- and spatio-economic process of deindustrialization, post-Fordism, and technological innovation.”

Our quommentary: “There is an optimum numerical size, beyond which each further increment of inhabitants creates difficulties out of all proportion of the benefits. There is also an optimum area of expansion, beyond which further urban growth tends to paralyze rather than to further important social relationships” — Lewis Mumford in “What Is A City?”.

Of course, Lewis was referring to problems like overpopulation and urban sprawl, but these very factors will determine the number of dross elements in the city and will also condition the manner in which drosscaping should be executed. It is important to accommodate drosscapes in a time frame, addressing a particular problem. But at the same time, a drosscape should also be timeless and inclusive enough to be able to satisfy the needs of all sectors of the population and foster these interpersonal relationships and activities – a perspective Mumfords acknowledges to be the very core of the city.

3. “Drosscapes require the designer to shift thinking from tacit and explicit knowledge (designer as sole expert and authority) to complex interactive and responsive processing (designer as collaborator and negotiator).”

Our quommentary: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar E. Chavez.

Interdisciplinary teams, public agencies, and the community should work together as one entity to pursue a better environment. The designer is a catalyst – the piece that starts unscrambling the puzzle of the complexity of the site – allowing themselves to interpret the opportunities offered by this situation as a gamma that may suit the needs of the community, it shall never be a single-minded, one-sided answer for the sake of mere creativity. (more…)