Some quotes from Death and Life:

The piecemeal erosive changes that cumulatively eat away a city are by no means all thought out in advance, in some Olympian scheme or master plan. If they were, they would not be nearly as effective as they are. In the main, they occur as direct, practical responses to direct, practical problems as those problems appear. Every move thus counts; few are gestures and boondoggles. In the case of attrition of automobiles, this same kind of opportunism will give maximum results, and also best results in terms of city utility and improvement. Attrition tactics should be applied where conflicts exist between traffic flow and other city uses, and as new conflicts of this kind develop.

This is from the chapter Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles, which discusses the eroding effect that satisfying the needs of cars have on cities. Her suggestion is to, gradually, make cities less and less convenient for car traffic – which is interesting to read about as Stockholm is about to run a test with congestion fees.

To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it to a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. [–––]

To see complex systems of functional order as order, and not as chaos, takes understanding. The leaves dropping from the trees in the autumn, the interior of an airplane engine, the entrails of a dissected rabbit, the city desk of a newspaper, all appear to be chaos if they are seen without comprehension. Once they are understood as systems of order, they actually look different.

Because we use cities, and therefore have experience with them, most of us already possess a good groundwork for understanding and appreciating their order. Some of our trouble in comprehending it, and much of the unpleasant chaotic effect, comes from lack of enough visual reinforcements to underscore the functional order, and, worse still, from unnecessary visual contradictions. [–––]

Suggestion – the part standing for the whole – is a principal means by which art communicates; this is why art often tells us so much with such economy. [–––]

The tactics needed are suggestions that help people make, for themselves, order and sense, instead of chaos, from what they see. [–––]

All these various tactics for capturing city visual order are concerned with bits and pieces in the city – bits and pieces which are, to be sure, knit into a city fabric of use that is as continuous and little cut apart as possible. But emphasis on bits and pieces is of the essence: this is what a city is, bits and pieces that supplement each other and support each other.

This is from chapter 19, Visual order: its limitations and possibilities, which is my favorite so far. Interesting stuff in the context of software architecture.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on April 21, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

Posted around the same time:

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  3. Tesugen Turns Five (March 21)
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  5. Se till att ha två buffertar för oförutsedda utgifter (October 30, 2006)
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