Miami. The extensive urbanization

Jan 31st 2009
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On April 2008 we visited the Center for Urban and Community Design in Miami, and during a week we experienced the way of life in a city organized along the highways.

The amount of pavement (public infrastructure) per building (private structure) is extremely high, where low-density land-use patterns require greater lengths of infrastructure to distribute municipal services. The miles of pavement that are necessary to connect each piece of suburbia serves only one type of activity, and since daily life involves a wide variety of activities, the residents of Miami suburbia spend a big amount of time and money moving from one place to the next. Since most of this motion takes place in singly occupied automobiles, the many disassociated pieces of suburbia is most clearly visible city landscape.

Miami I from edicions espontaneas on Vimeo.

There are not so much public spaces and parks in Miami suburbs, we must drive a long time along the roads if we could walk or met people. We didn´t find people walking along the suburbs sidewalks. Suburban sprawl is the new standard pattern of growth, where historical neighborhoods as Coral Gables or Coconut Grove crosses itself like strange figures of another type of more human experience, moved away to which he provides the isolation of the trip by car.

Miami City pattern is rational and comprehensive, it´s performance is largely predictable, It is a system for living. but, this system is itself unsustainable. Even at relatively low population densities, it is not healthy growth, it tends not to pay for itself financially and consumes land, while producing traffic problems and exacerbating social inequity and isolation. These particular outcomes were not predicted, which continue to decant slowly into the countryside. As the ring of suburbia grows around the city, so grows the void at the center. Even while the struggle to revitalize deteriorated downtown neighborhoods and business districts continues, the inner ring of suburbs is already at risk, losing residents and businesses to fresher locations on a new suburban edge.

Miami II from edicions espontaneas on Vimeo.

The elementary particle of Miami suburbs is the single-family house. The current model is the fast-food version of the American dream, some call it the McMansion. Its roots can be traced back to the manse on the agricultural estate, or the cabin in the woods. Unlike its predecessors, however, the McMansion is located in the center of a small plot of land, surrounded at close quarters by more of the same. Like its culinary counterpart, the McMansion provides excellent value for its price. American homebuilders are perhaps the best in the world when it comes to providing buyers with the private realm, the insides of the house. Dollar for dollar, no other society approaches the United States in terms of the number of square feet per person, the number of baths per bedroom, the number of appliances in the kitchen, the quality of the climate control, and the convenience of the garage. The American private real is simply a superior product. The problem is that most suburban residents, the minute they leave this refuge, are confronted by a tawdry and stressful environment. They enter their cars and embark on a journey of banality and hostility that lasts until they arrive at the interior of their next destination. Americans may have the finest private realm in the developed world, but our public real is brutal. Confronted by repetitive subdivisions, treeless collector roads, and vast parking lots, the citizen finds few public spaces worth visiting. One’s role in this environment is primarily as a motorist competing with asphalt.

Miami III from edicions espontaneas on Vimeo.

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Miami. The extensive urbanization

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