The word “utopia” comes from the Greek words for “no” and “place.” So, geography Professor Deborah Martin is intrigued by the frequency with which urban planners use utopian thinking when such a place, by definition, does not exist. In trying to create idyllic cities, planners overlook that urban areas have no singular use. Martin feels the best urban designs are the ones that don’t prescribe how a space should be used.
“What's utopian for one person, what makes the world work well, might not work for everybody else. When we think we know what people need, such as green space, then we prescribe green space in a certain way,” says Martin. “You end up having a lot of potential conflict over what people might think is good for everyone. It gets complicated pretty quickly.”
In this episode, Martin explains how urban designs reflect our values, the challenges of building for the 21st-century, and why one space can have different uses for different people.
Challenge. Change. is produced by Andrew Hart and Melissa Hanson for Clark University. Listen and subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Find other episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.