HAWAIIAN CONSCIENCISM with Linda Tuhiwai Smith on May 2, 2013 at UH Manoa. She spoke on activism, feminism, culture, difference,...
After 666 comments, a friend of mine was kicked off Metafilter. That was ten years ago. He told me his old screennames over drinks a...
Urban planners, especially the smart growth types, love infill development. Rather than endless sprawl, new construction is instead directed into under-utilized lots in the urban core.
In 2010, an Affordable Housing Focus Group discussed whether infill and transit-oriented development could increase the affordable housing stock in Honolulu. More recently as part of the Oahu General Plan revision process, the term infill itself was added to the proposed revisions as one way to achieve “full development” in the primary urban center.
I generally associate the idea of infill with ohana housing, accessory dwelling units, and rental units built in the back of a long lot.
Some of the lots in my neighborhood have had the original single-family plantation bungalow torn down to make room for a Motel 6-style concrete two-or-three story walk-up. The concrete footprint often covers the entire lot; the demand for off-street parking trumps a desire for grass or garden. Despite my initial annoyance at the profoundly utilitarian architecture, I’ve come around on these.
They are the classic example of a housing submarket that provides affordable housing in the urban core. When a newly arrived urban planning classmate complained that this neighborhood needed redevelopment to improve aesthetics and increase density, I nearly jumped down his throat. Filtering up (through renovation or replacement) may get you a 30-story condo where there once was three of these concrete shoeboxes, but it would also mean condo-high rents (I’ve yet to recover from learning about condo maintenance fees).
So when the term infill can encompass everything from fancy pants extensions like this French project…
A young growing family was excited about the idea of enlarging the ground floor of their 5-plex situated in Rosemont-Petite-Patrie. As they wished to keep their upstairs tenants, the clients agreed to sacrifice a portion of their backyard for the extension.
… to historic preservation districts “seeking to retain the architectural character of a neighborhood while increasing vibrancy.”
Just as the general category of small living spaces can include everything from Single Room/Resident Occupancy to the latest micro-apartment, billing a development as an infill project doesn’t necessarily guarantee affordability. Is it still smart growth if it comes with a price tag that’s prohibitive to many?
As a follow up to the excerpts from Raymond Williams’ Keywords, Ananya Roy on how we define the public in “A ‘Public’ Muse On Planning Convictions and Feminist Contention”:
Much of this article is concerned with one of planning’s central concepts: the public. For planning, the “public” is what Williams (1983, 15) would call a “keyword”: a significant, binding, indicative word that evokes a particular formation of meaning…
In the case of planning, the “public” is a particularly powerful keyword precisely because it is commonplace, so integral to the vocabulary that the contours of its meaning are rarely visited, much less questioned. It is this matter-of-factness, this quality of being prosaic and obvious, that makes the investigation of the “public” an imperative.
As Fraser and Gordon (1997) emphasized,
Keywords are sites at which the meaning of social experience is negotiated and contested. Keywords typically carry unspoken assumptions and connotations that can powerfully influence the discourses they permeate — in part by constituting a body of doxa, or taken-for-granted commonsense belief that escapes critical scrutiny. (P. 26)
Keywords, Raymond Williams:
It is not a dictionary or glossary of a particular academic subject. It is not a series of footnotes to dictionary histories or definitions of a number of words. It is, rather, the record of an inquiry into a vocabulary: a shared body of words and meanings in our most general discussions, in English, of the practices and institutions which we group as culture and society. Every word which I have included has at some time, in the course of some argument, virtually forced itself on my attention because the problems of its meanings seemed to me inextricably bound up with the problems it was being used to discuss.
I called these words Keywords in two connected senses: they are significant, binding words in certain activities and their interpretation; they are significant, indicative words in certain forms of thought. Certain uses bound together certain ways of seeing culture and society, not least in these two most general words. Certain other uses seemed to me to open up issues and problems, in the same general area, of which we all needed to be very much more conscious.
Tumblrer solipsistic exhaustion also has a choice Williams quotation on not speaking the same language.
When we come to say ‘we just don’t speak the same language’ we mean something more general: that we have different immediate values or different kinds of valuation, or that we are aware, often intangibly, of different formations and distributions of energy and interest. In such a case, each group is speaking its native language, but its uses are significantly different, and especially when strong feelings or important ideas are in question. No single group is ‘wrong’ by any linguistic criterion, though a temporarily dominant group may try to enforce its own uses as ‘correct’. What is really happening through these critical encounters, which may be very conscious or may be felt only as a certain strangeness and unease, is a process quite central in the development of a language when, in certain words, tones and rhythms, meanings are offered, felt for, tested, confirmed, asserted, qualified, changed.
Osborne & Rose (1999), “Governing cities: notes on the spatialisation of virtue“ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 17(6) 737 – 760
[T]he image of urban space as providing a multitude of spontaneous encounters, of sudden glimpses of architectural oddities and esoteric markets, of bustling yet safe public spaces, this urban experience seen by its celebrants as arising out of the intersection and accumulation of thousands of spontaneous histories and schemes, has been transformed into calculated, rationalised, and repetitive programmes for reshaping waterfronts, dockland areas, sites of old buildings, palaces, warehouses, piers, vegetable markets, and the like into tourist attractions. Urban theme parks, each more hyperreal than real.
Disused wharves become craft markets. Victorian structures that accommodated carcasses of sheep and cows on their way to butchers, sacks of potatoes and cauliflower on their way to cornershops are now filled with trendy boutiques and cafes.
Sectors of space once occupied, for specifiable economic and other reasons, by people of Chinese extraction become ‘Chinatown’, proclaimed by street signs with elaborate and publicly funded festivals to mark the start of the Chinese Year of a particular animal. Each ‘conservation area’, each ‘heritage trail’ is populated not by the spontaneous movements of the urban inhabitants, but by those transported by tour coaches, clutching guidebooks, video cameras, and postcards.
The city becomes not so much a complex of dangerous and compelling spaces of promises and gratifications, but a series of packaged zones of enjoyment, managed by an alliance of urban planners, entrepreneurs, local politicians, and quasi-governmental ‘regeneration’ agencies.
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