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October 18, 2004 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Town Haul: Architecture and New Urbanism meet Reality TV tm in NY and Britain
posted by shoepal (8 comments total)
(via Metropolis magazine)
posted by shoepal at 7:11 AM on October 18, 2004

Hmph. It takes more than a coat of paint to make a town attractive and to make it work for its inhabitants. Seems like zoning, land use decisions, sign ordinances, tax structures, et cetera have much more impact on how livable a town is.

This reminds me of that 1970s spirit where city leaders would say to themselves: "The downtown is crappy. Oh, I know! We'll put in a pedestrian mall!"
posted by Vidiot at 7:38 AM on October 18, 2004

I'll agree that simply making a town look better is unlikely to have much real effect. And the pedestrian-mall idea was almost universally a disaster.

Zoning and land-use regulations do indeed have an effect on how livable a town is: those regulations, as they exist nearly everywhere in the United States today, basically ban anything but sprawl. We would probably be net to the good without them at all.

The New Urbanists have what looks like the right idea for right now, but we shouldn't forget that the strip mall with a big parking lot out front was first designed by people who meant well, too.
posted by tino at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2004

Forgive me if I'm dense, but what do these new tv shows have to do with New Urbanism?
posted by signal at 1:32 PM on October 18, 2004

Signal, I was just being flip and riffing on the idea that you can give a town/city a "make-over."

The shows aren't exactly "New Urbanist", and I'd probably be scolded by the NU crowd for even suggesting a connection, even flippantly.

Though, I have to say that the idea of building a town from scratch or re-designing/restoring a town based on the tenants of New Urbanism for the sake of RealityTV can't be far down the line. Of course, this series is just the beginning and will probably just be a sort of surface type solution (paint & elbow grease), not a full fledged DPZ sort of project.

I actually wonder what the diehard New Urbanists think of this new reality show (Town Haul). I've searched the archives of the pro-urb list for references, but it apparently hasn't hit their radar quite yet. I'm sure some of the more vocal folks will have interesting opinions.
posted by shoepal at 2:03 PM on October 18, 2004

I don't know that there is any connection at all, or that there will be a reaction. New Urbanism is all about planning communities. These shows are all about cosmetic facelifts and sound bites. Doubt the two have any intersection at all.
posted by signal at 2:45 PM on October 18, 2004

Fair play. Though, I do think that the NU folks will indeed have a reaction to this sort of RealityTV nonsense.

There is a chance that Town Haul could actually do some good by going beyond the facade, adopting some of the principles of NU, perhaps even involving planners, landscape architects, and maybe even writing new zoning codes, if even only behind the scenes. I don't expect them to, but there's always the chance.
posted by shoepal at 6:52 PM on October 18, 2004

Metropolis article here...
posted by shoepal at 1:31 PM on November 9, 2004

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