Posted by Richard Haut on December 22, 2003 at 05:24:28:
In Reply to: architecture should be somewhat dangerous, and therefore thrilling posted by Farzam on December 21, 2003 at 20:10:07:
it is, I believe, known as the "dirt factor". Children in poorer nations are exposed to far more health risks from dirt and therefore build up a better immune system (what is usually forgotten in this theory is that a proportion of them die). In the developed world they live such a closed and secure life that they have weakened immune systems.
the same with architecture.
when one looks at the modern ideas for housing between the 1920's and the end of the 1950's one has to remember just how poor many people in the western world actually were (look at the film of the Americans during the Great Depression).
does a developed urban environment have to be so sterile and so unchallenging ?
unfortunately it is, in many countries, an illusion. There is real poverty in many parts of the USA, many in Britain are far poorer than any British government will admit (look at the terrible figures for the number of elderly who die from cold - usually combined with malnutrition - in Britain each year).
the tragedy is that in embracing the comfort of affluent safety too many are prepared to ignore the fact that just around the corner are those living lives of alienation and poverty who are not protected, are not safe.
the challenges are still there - but perhaps one has to firstly go and look for them and, secondly, fight the smug safety of those who are affluent enough to want to be cocooned. Remember that poverty is seen as a threat to safety. Much of the safe illusion is based on 1) suburban conceit and 2) corporate arrogance.
If you read French I would suggest the works of the remarkable Sister Emanuelle, a nun now in her nineties who considers that poor people, for all the suffering, can find happiness, whereas the rich cannot because they are perpetually frightened of losing what they have. Also John Grisham's remarkable novel "The Street Lawyer".
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