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Mixing Home, Work, Culture and Recreation

Course video 28 of 52

This week we focus on the issue of communication in cities. The ability to communicate with others is becoming the central purpose of cities as they become more and more centered on service economies. It determines where people wish to live, their travel patterns, the needs for electronic networks and the need for public places. We explore here what designers can do to create modern information centered places. Week 4 ended with a discussion of green infrastructure and renewable energy. The first session of Week 5 follows up on this, focusing on how cities can manage energy consumption. Energy is the essential input for cities, and the form, layout and energy sources play a large role in determining how efficiently cities operate. The second session joins energy and communication, by focusing on the electronic networks that are an essential infrastructure of cities. Energy is not simply electrons operating within wires or over space, but also the vehicle for conveying meaningful information. We see how cities control their systems, protect from threatening incidents, and promote communication between their residents. While new electronic networks allow people to live at a distance from each other, they have also promoted face-to-face communication. The public and private spaces in cities provide the settings for people to meet, see others and interact. How they are designed can make a large difference in whether cities are considered sociable. Finally, we explore the desire by many people to live in places that are near their work, shopping and recreation. Some cities have always had such places, but many more recent cities were founded on the modernist idea of separating the functions of cities. We will look at examples of successful mixed use buildings and neighborhoods. We are also in the midst of the second assignment, which asks you to identify great places in your city. Keep in mind the lessons of this and the past week’s sessions as you take photographs of places that you value.

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