democracities

3

Freedom exists in Bangkok; but just for some kind of citizens. For those who do not have financial security, the same kind of freedom does not exist. Access to the city is facilitated for different reasons and one of the most important is the mobility, and Bangkok’s public transportation is not able to offer dignity to his entire population, on average a commuter spends 44 days (1056 hours) in a year traveling to and from work (O’ Neil, 2008).

Pedestrians are the most elemental component of the city, and in Bangkok seems like the relevance of this component is completely underestimated, which is easy to read when you notice the lack of coverture of the Metro Lines in comparison with the size of the city, or when you realized that the public buses are 40 years old. 

Dignifying the pedestrian is not a priority for the authorities of this city, public investments are more concerned with developing infrastructures which promote the image of a world class city to attract international finance. The consequence of this processes is an increasing number of vehicles and the reduction of pavements sizes, therefore the pedestrian have a restricted area to walk and the idea of freedom is invisible from the perspective of the public space. 

Housing security should not necessarily be determined through ownership. People must be given freedom to have access to shelter without conditions, because this is part of the construction of the contemporary idea of the right to the city. Actually, freedom in the wide sense of the word, within a urban development context, should ensure to people the possibility to build on their own terms, including aspects like design, materiality and location. 

Graham Perring
Francisco Vergara

E no reino encantado do democracídio

Essa é mais uma para os que ainda acreditam que existe democracia apenas por votar. Me fez lembrar até de um antigo escrito meu chamado “ Vovô – Nos tempos da democracia”. Para quem ainda não leu, tá no e-book que lancei pela Lamparina Luminosa e é só baixar gratuitamente no link http://www.lamparinaluminosa.com/index.php/os-livros/e-book/59-escritos-malditos  Confere lá e vê se não é

URBAN DESIGNERS + POLITICAL POWER = GOOD CITY / FRANCISCO VERGARA

“Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends” Lewis Mumford

The idea of social development as an economic approach based on the neoliberal system is a pathway towards a segregated city. Bangkok and the cities of Thailand that I met in this trip reminded me several similar conditions that happen in Chile, which also have this model of development rooted on the social system. The inequity and the lack of opportunities are expressed spatially through the city. And here is the point that gets my attention: a political decision has direct spatial consequences, therefore the presence of architects and urban designers on the realm of political decisions is fundamental. It is not about make technical decisions, is about install the idea of “good city” as a priority in order to reach a condition of developed country. Following this idea, it is essential that the spatial transformations happen on the political level first, otherwise the scopes of an architect working for a bottom up model could produce transformations in very specific areas of the city but not in a wide scale.

 Transformation of the city should be addressed by politicians not just like actions but like a statement, cleaning the existent processes and installing models to ensure the transparency, participation and pursuit of the common good through the city acknowledged as a right. 

In my opinion, Baan Mankong is an expression of a neoliberal country, where is a point in which the government must invest on reduce the levels of inequity in order to preserve social stability, and due to the excellent disposition of people like CODI members, this kind of initiatives are successful; however beyond the housing solutions, the segregated cities are still there, closing opportunities and being a concrete jungle where the stronger wins.

To stress my idea, rather than find new ways to get resources to produce housing solutions, it is necessary to transform the political level in order to install the idea of fair city as a right. Then, the incredible efforts to build community engagement in order to produce bottom up changes would find a consequent response from the top level, and finally produce a better city based in a collaboration between all the stakeholders.

From my perspective, the spatial consequence of a process like this, would decant into a spatial expression of democracy, and therefore in a democratic city.