Betsky – Group 2 (MM)

I wasn’t able to access the PDF so expect an update here pretty soon, but today on my walk I went to a tiny local park up the street from my house. It’s little more than a small lawn, a tree, and a planter, but I’ve always found it fascinating for the way it stands out. Not knowing exactly what aspects of design to focus on, I’ll give this my best shot as to why I find this little park interesting from a design perspective. My entire neighborhood is very generically suburban. It’s all gridded streets, rectangular lots, four-way stops, and little to speak of in terms of public spaces. However, two things break this pattern: the neighborhood is built at the top of a hill and the larger streets which border it are all curved rather than straight. This photo shows the sloping hill and curve of Prospect (the two-lane thoroughfare behind the park) where it intersects 14th Street, the one in the right foreground, at a non-perpendicular angle. For some reason, there’s a small side street on the left side no more than thirty feet long which intersects 14th Street at another non-perpendicular angle. The effect is that strange triangular lot, too small for a house and angled all the wrong ways. Turning right off Prospect down 14th feels more like a U-turn, and you always have to watch out for cars parked on the side of the road or cars coming the other way up 14th. All told, it’s a pristine little piece of nature that I love to walk by but a complete nightmare for cars and a perfect example of why good suburban planning is necessary.

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One thought on “Betsky – Group 2 (MM)

  1. After actually reading the passage from the Betsky text, I have some new thoughts to add. I was very interested in the way that the author seeks to investigate and explain his surroundings, examining space not as an infinite canvas on which everything is built but as a commodity in and of itself. While we might take space for granted in many parts of the US, living on such a vast and open continent, the Dutch live with very little space, and are faced with the options of creating more of it by reclaiming land or using what they have as efficiently as possible. Los Angeles, where I live, is certainly an example of what happens when a city is built with little concern with running out of space. The city has grown outwards and spread further and further, forming a massive urban and suburban sprawl with little rhyme or reason to it in which cars are all but a necessity to get from one place to another. I’m excited to examine a culture which is practically the opposite of my own in its view of space and see what can be learned from this.

    Betsky’s perspective contrasts to some degree with that of Nescio’s characters. Both seek to understand the space they inhabit from a holistic cultural, economic, political, and geographic approach. However, while Betsky seems assured in his understanding of Rotterdam and the Netherlands’ architecture and how it reflects those other facets, the “young titans” seem lost in their quest for understanding. Betsky’s bike ride is a tour through his academic field; the titans’ late night (or early morning) wanderings reflect their confusion with how to make their way in the world. The latter perspective comes from a place of inexperience; the former from expertise in a field. Naturally, I relate strongly to the titans, as I am just beginning to investigate these topics.

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