Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Human-sized

Architecture and urban planning — and human constructions in general — should be suited to the human body and human abilities. Obvious, right? Famous architect Le Corbusier advocated that clear principle, which he summed up in his "Modulor" — "a range of harmonious measurements to suit the human scale, universally applicable to architecture and to mechanical things" ...


... But did Le Corbusier really believe in his principle?


Take a close look at his monstrous vision above and notice that it is plunked down right in the middle of Paris. A blueprint for annihilating history and turning humans into ants. Somehow I'm not surprised that Le Corbusier was a fascist

Central Paris escaped this fate, but not its suburbs, and not the centers of many cities. In China, among other places, Corbusier-ish anthills are sprouting up everywhere.


Yanjiao, China (New York Times article)

This brings me to Portland. Just about everything in this city is truly on the human scale. For one thing, it's easy to get about by bike, and lots of people do. Good planning has made it easy to use public transportation, most car traffic is channeled onto relatively few streets, and there are bike lanes and paths all over. Today I rented the red bike below and enjoyed exploring the east side and the riverfront.



I parked outside Free Geek, a densely packed makerspace where volunteers turn donated old electronics into usable equipment that goes to needy recipients. High technology becomes accessible and understandable through projects like this.


I was glad to see the Repair Manifesto on one of Free Geek's walls.


Another delightful feature of Portland is the little neighborhood movie theaters that either still show films or serve as music venues.

The Moreland is so narrow that there must be room for only 4 or 5 seats per row:


The Aladdin is now a music venue and restaurant:


CineMagic is showing a film that's all about a human reduced to the scale of an ant.


What does this all have to do with typewriters? Everything, come to think about it.

But tomorrow afternoon I'll visit a source of actual Portlandian typewriters. I'll be sure to document the visit and report thoroughly.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015