Friday, May 05, 2006

New Ideas Must Use Old Buildings - A Tribute to Jane Jacobs

It is with some shame that I admit to having missed the sad news of Jane Jacobs ’ death last week. She would have been 90 yesterday.

There is little I can add to the tributes and obituaries already written about this remarkable and influential woman other than to say her thinking is as relevant now as it ever was.

She was an American born activist who campaigned for community based urban planning. Her philosophy was to think of cities as living beings and ecosystems. She suggested that over time, buildings, streets and neighbourhoods function as dynamic organisms, changing in response to how people interact with them. She fiercely opposed many of the plans in the US and Canada to give cities over to the car and made the case for the reuse of existing buildings. To quote her:
"Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."

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