Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Urban Living

I'm almost hesitant to bring this up, if only because you'll all conclude that I spent too much time in London skiving-off and visiting museums, but in the Turbine Room in the Tate Modern there was a fascinating look at urban development and the rise of the city. Alas, I literally had just 15 minutes in which to explore but basically the idea of the main exhibition was to graphically demonstrate the various levels of population density that exist in 4 key cities around the world, how they compare with one another and what the trends are.

To underscore what otherwise would just be a dull recitation of statistics, contoured three-dimensional maps had been created to show just how acute the issue is in some parts of the world, most noticeably Mumbai where the average population density is seven times that seen in London, itself hardly a place you'd think of as being the urban equivalent of the Australian Outback. Fortunately, there is still a good summary of what was displayed available on the Tate Modern website, including some interesting videos I never actually got to see whilst there.

Big picture summary? Cities can be an extremely efficient way to provide living space and the necessary associated services, but not at the expense of meeting other basic human needs for open space and elbow room. Oh, and in themselves, cities don't automatically solve issues around the provision of the basics like water and sewers....

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