Enter urban jungle

In the art/architecture scene there was a period with green hype around 2009. The cities were to become green again; balconies, windowsills, rooftops were to become local farms – to connect us with the food supply, the nature, all the things good and green. (See for instance here or here).

However, nature is not just home made tomato chutney. Greenization comes with issues. Enter nature, enter the battle between man and nature. How about having insects and/or pesticides all over our cities? I can see the rats loving the new urban farms. Some places have recently suffered from an increase in “city rabbits”, and after them, “city foxes”. What’s next, “city wolves?” How about bugs? The bed bugs, that basically disappeared in the 50s (as a result of DDT), are back, having invaded thousands of hotels, camping sites, malls, movie theaters. They’ve even taken over the ladies’ clothes section of Macy’s in New York. Nature making a comeback.

Recent years have brought forth huge rising numbers of youth unemployment. In the west, there are huge numbers of unemployed young people without a sense of belonging to society. This is a threat to the social contract altogether. Take the riots in England, for example, where the laws appear to be out of the window. Ask any 20-year old from England or elsewhere, if he or she identifies with society. Even if they aren’t out on the streets wreaking havoc, the answer might be no. Maybe they say something about everybody looking out for their own interests, or refer to “the law of the jungle”.

Architecture has at times been notoriously naive about the human nature. Take all the housing projects in the 60s and 70s, that were supposed to be all about the good for the people. Well, many of them have become slums now. So, be careful what you ask for when you make visions of an urban jungle. We might get exactly that.

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