New Media for Designers and Builders with Steve Mouzon | Urbanism Speakeasy

Steve Mouzon was recently a guest on the Urbanism Speakeasy podcast with Andy Boreau.

Excerpt below:

“OK, maybe I’m overemphasizing Steve’s point. We talk about what Steve calls “the era of the company” and “the age of the idea”. Steve thinks we’re moving into the age of the idea. That suggests individual thought and creativity is more important than an assembly line or factory mentality. If you’re a design professional, you know the factory mentality all too well. Professional planners and designers still predominantly live in an extinct era. See what you think about Steve’s prophecy of things to come.”

Listen to the podcast here: New media for designers and builders with Steve Mouzon | Urbanism Speakeasy.

Share the knowledge!

More Poor Richard | Part 9

More Poor Richard, Part 9
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Courteous Reader,

I attempted to win your favor when I wrote my first Almanac for Architects and Planners, in the name of the public good and professional betterment, by way of earning some profit and a wife. I am gratified by your expression of encouragement for my tireless efforts dedicated to these aims. Alas, my circumstances still find me exceedingly poor and, unluckily, exceedingly wifeless. I am required to earn some profit to address both problems whilst now addressing a third, namely testing the proposition that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To satisfy my own particular brand of insanity, I have written more proverbs and whimsical sayings for your benefit and, hopefully, my own.

As before on The Outlaw Urbanist, I write this new Almanac in increments of ten, according to the dictates of Moses and the Almighty. However, once published as an Almanac for Architects and Planners, the proverbs and witticisms were gathered into a number equal to the days of the week, after being reliably informed that both seven and ten are sacred numbers. My desired requirement for a wife is sufficient motive to write this new Almanac in the hope it will find your favor and retweets as a means of demonstrating the usefulness of my continued efforts but also your charity to this sane Friend and poor Servant,


On History

81.      The media always seems to report about the tip of the wrong iceberg.

82.       History is always expanding, never contracting.

83.       History is inevitable but nothing in history ever was…

84.       Stable states will destabilize over time.

85.       Unstable states tend to remain unstable until stabilized over time into recognizable patterns.

86.       Stabilized patterns persistent through time tend to persist until destabilized.

87.       The present always views the past with arrogance and the future with ignorance.

88.       Ignorance of the past leads to its repetition.

89.       Arrogance about the future condemns those who have to live in it.

90.       History is never permanent, always in transition.

Issue 10 of More Poor Richard for Architects and Planners cometh soon!

Share the knowledge!

The Biblical City | Part 2

The Biblical City: Of, In, The…
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Can the Holy Bible tell us anything about urbanism?

There over eight hundred and fifty (850) common references to the city in the Holy Bible. There are over four-and-a-half times the number of common references to the city in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. This is unsurprising since the Old Testament has about four-and-a-third more words than the New Testament, depending on translation and which books are included.

Of the approximately one hundred and fifty (150) common references to the city in the New Testament, over twenty-one percent (21%) occur in the Book of Revelation alone. Outside of this, there are only six (6) common references to the city, which appear more significant than merely indicating a geographical place; two (2) in the Gospel of Matthew (or simply Matthew) and four (2) in St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews (or simply Hebrews). More than half (51%) of the common references to the city in New Testament are nouns denoting the location/direction of a specific person in space (“He went into the city”, e.g. he was outside but now he is inside), often after a proper name (e.g. Jerusalem) was previously used in the text. These common references are extremely important in the New Testament. They map for the reader the movement and location of specific people at specific moments, most usually Jesus and his Apostles, or in recounting past events/parables during the course of the primary action of a specific text. More than a third (36%) of the common references are a non-possessive, non-relational subject or object (direct or indirect) of a sentence. (e.g. “The city was…” or “…a city”). Again, this often occurs after a proper name was previously used in the text (i.e. we already know where the action is taking place). Finally, only eleven percent (11%) of the common references in the New Testament are possessive nouns (e.g. “the priests of the city”). These possessive nouns are often important for denoting differences; for example, between insider (e.g. resident or citizen) and outsider (e.g. visitor or stranger), the powerful (e.g. priests) and the powerless (e.g. poor), or other such relationships presented as a dichotomy in the narrative.

The last might signify an important difference. Of the approximately seven hundred (700) common references to the city in the Old Testament, nearly twenty-seven percent (27%) are possessive nouns. Almost two-and-a-half times more possessive nouns are used in the Old Testament than the New Testament, in relative terms. There are several plausible reasons for this difference. It might be a simple quirk of translation, which arises for a variety of reasons. For example, most of the Torah is translated from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek. Alternatively, perhaps it is simply because the texts of the New Testament are younger than those of the Torah. Another possibility is a difference in the scale of human perspective about their world. The perspective of the New Testament is a Roman World. The perspective of the Old Testament is limited to the region of Judea, Egypt and Mesopotamia. This might have led to a change in writing style, abrogating the perceived need for extensive use of possessive nouns. Or, it might be a consequence of all these factors. In any case, this might be important because the writing style of the New Testament – and, in particular, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles – seems much more similar to the Historical Books of the Old Testament (Joshua through Maccabees) than the other books. Nearly three hundred (300) or forty-two percent (42%) of the common references to the city in Old Testament are nouns denoting the location/direction of a specific person in space. However, the Historical Books deploy these common references at a greater frequency than the rest of the Old Testament. Over forty-five percent (45%) of the common references to the city in the Old Testament occur in the Historical Books. Finally, about thirty-one percent (31%) of the common references to the city in the Old Testament are a non-possessive, non-relational subject or object (direct or indirect) of a sentence. What this suggests, whatever you might believe, is the writers of the Gospels and Acts believed they were writing histories and adopted the appropriate writing style for that endeavor drawing upon the model of Old Testament texts.

NEXT: Part 3, The Biblical City Redux

The Biblical City is a new series from The Outlaw Urbanist.

Share the knowledge!

Urban Patterns | Nuuk, Greenland

“Look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.”
— Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon & Garfunkel
Admit it: most of us prefer the 1987 version by The Bangles.

Urban Patterns | Nuuk, Greenland
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

NOTE: Urban Patterns is focusing on more obscure and/or extreme locations in a number of posts over the next few weeks.

Satellite view of Nuuk on the southwest coast of Greenland from 800 km (Image: US Geological Survey, Landsat and IBCAO, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, courtesy of Google Earth, 2013). The north coast of Baffin Island, Canada is to the extreme left of this image.

Nuuk, Greenland is the capital city of Greenland. It is located at the end of the Nuup Kangerlua fjord on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea. The area around Nuuk has a long history of habitation dating as far back to 2,200 BC including the ancient pre-Inuit, Vikings/Norse, Norwegian, and Danish people. The colony founded in 1728 by the Dano-Norwegian Crown consisted of mutinous soldiers, convicts, and prostitutes; most of whom died within the first year of scurvy and other ailments. Today, it has a population of approximately 16,500 people and over a third of Greenland’s total population lives in the Nuuk Greater Metropolitan area. The town has steadily grown over the last two decades with the population increasing by over a third relative to the 1990 levels, and by over 22% relative to the 2000 levels. Nuuk has developed trade, business, shipping, and other industries. It began as a small fishing settlement with a harbor but, as the economy developed rapidly during the 1970s and 1980s, the fishing industry declined. However, seafood including fish, seal, and so forth is still sold in abundance in Nuuk and the capital contains a number of fish markets. Minerals such as zinc, gold, and so forth have significantly contributed to the development of Nuuk’s economy. The city, like much of Greenland, is heavily dependent upon Danish funding and investment (Source: Wikipedia).

Satellite view from 10km of Nuuk, Greenland in 2013 (Source: Google Earth).

The urban grid of Nuuk is somewhat unexpected. Given the extreme polar climate, one might expect a more compact layout to promote energy and heat efficiency in the settlement. However, the town has more of a dispersed deformed grid layout, perhaps somewhat more characteristic of Inuit settlements in the horizontal dimension whilst much of the architecture reflects a Danish/European influence in the vertical dimension (see the header image). The dispersed nature of the urban grid might also be reflective of the rapid growth occurring in the town over the previous three decades. Some areas of the urban grid are laid out in a manner consistent with American suburban sprawl patterns, especially to the east and north of the town. The somewhat hilly terrain of the town probably plays a role in this settlement form as well. Given its location in Greenland, several things about Nuuk might, at first glance, strike some people as odd: for example, Nuuk has its own golf club and course,  which is adjacent to the University of Greenland campus (yes, there is a university but only 150 students); there is the Greenland National Museum, a National Library, and a Greenland National Bank; and, even two stadia located in the town, a futbol stadium with a seating capacity of 2,000 people and a handball stadium that can hold 1,000 people. Nuuk, Greenland is so unexpected in many ways, which it is utterly fascinating.

(Updated: July 4, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

Share the knowledge!

The Biblical City | Part 1

Featured Image: Depiction of Cain establishing the city of Enoch by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (circa 1851-60).

The Biblical City: In the beginning…
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Can the Holy Bible tell us anything about urbanism?

The Holy Bible might seem an unusual source to search for answers about urbanism. After all, it is manifestly a religious text dealing with questions of spiritual law, conduct and faith, especially the New Testament. However, the Holy Bible also represents some of the oldest texts in human history with the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) generally dated to around 1400 BC and surviving fragments of the Torah available from around 600 BC. The counter argument: it is the height of arrogance to assume prima facie the Holy Bible cannot tell us anything useful about cities and urbanism.

Of course, in researching the Holy Bible for timeless lessons about cities and urbanism, we have to accept parameters of scale will limit us to conceptual investigations and metaphorical interpretations. The ancient concept of a city is remarkably different to our modern one due to radical differences in population. World population is generally estimated at between 15-60 million people before the 4th century AD height of the Roman Empire. World population today is more than 7 billion people or approximately 100-500 times greater, depending upon scholarly estimates for ancient populations. The modern megalopolis would have been unimaginable to our ancient ancestors. We also have to accept the limits of translation. Biblical texts have been translated time and time again over the ages. What we might find in researching the Holy Bible will be heavily dependent upon how these ancient texts were translated in the past, hereby affecting our interpretation of the material today. This article initially relies upon the King James (KJB) version of the Holy Bible but also uses the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) (translated “directly from the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic” according to the Roman Catholic Church) as a double-check for translation issues. It is likely this is insufficient. However, it is a good place to start if we actually hope to say anything on the subject during a single lifetime.

There are more than three hundred (300) cities mentioned by name in the Holy Bible. Of these, some named cities are clearly more important than others. In particular, Jerusalem, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babylon/Babel represent something more than mere settlements in geographical space though, of course, they are also this in the biblical texts. These cities have a strong metaphorical/symbolic nature running throughout most of the Holy Bible right to the Book of Revelation (written around 95 AD). There are other well-known biblical cities mentioned such as Jericho, Rome, and Nazareth, which seem more important for the exclusive purpose of geo-spatial location and identification (e.g. “Jesus of Nazareth”). Jerusalem (referenced over 600 times in the Old Testament alone) is first casually mentioned in Joshua 10:1 (KJB “Now it came to pass, when Adonizedec king of Jerusalem had heard…”). Jerusalem is also the last city mentioned by name in the Holy Bible in the Book of Revelation 21:10 (NJB “In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God). The first city mentioned in the Holy Bible is Enoch, built by Cain and named after his son (NJB Genesis 4:17. “Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became the founder of a city and gave the city the name of his son Enoch”). Some argue Cain’s Enoch is the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk, which was famous as the capital city of Gilgamesh, hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh. However, it is more generally accepted that Uruk is the biblical Erech, said to be founded by Nimrod, who was the great-grandson of Noah. In any case, considering he famously murdered his brother Abel (KJB Genesis 4:9 “Am I my brother’s keeper?”), Cain represents a rather inauspicious father figure for city builders and planners. One could argue (tongue-firmly-in-cheek), this represents the original sin of the planning profession for which they still seek amends to this day as modern planners explicitly desire to be their “brother’s keeper”.

NEXT: Part 2, The Generic City in the Bible.

The Biblical City is a new series from The Outlaw Urbanist.

Share the knowledge!