thoughtlessuntildusk asked:

Is there ever a good time for people to disconnect from their communities? Perhaps more directly, is there ever an acceptable or constructive use of highways in a community?

Thanks for an interesting question! Out of an appreciation for nuance and a desire for devil’s advocate balance, I’m trying hard to imagine an example in which this might be the case. By the doctrine of Modernist theory, sure, highways are an efficient means of getting people from A to B on a regional scale. Of course, economic and environmental reality don’t line up so cozily with Modernist theory. 

I can’t imagine any circumstance in which building a new highway would be beneficial to a community. However, this then begs the question of whether or not existing highways can be constructive in any way. Are there opportunities of adaptive reuse for highways?

It’s not hard to imagine a point in the not-so-distant future in which highways are essentially useless in their current form. Could a highway someday offer the same sort of public space as the High Line in New York? Plenty of highways have been torn down and given back to the community as public spaces and parks, but I know of none that have been kept in tact for similar ends (Why would we do this? I couldn’t say, but I imagine the cost of ripping out a highway might be prohibitive enough to at least foster a discussion). I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

As for the more broad question of a proper time for people to disconnect, I think there certainly is, but we shouldn’t build communities to encourage it. In Copenhagen it is very common for people to have a small summer home out in the countryside - for all the benefits of urban living, nearly everyone enjoys escaping the hum of city from time to time. I see nothing wrong in this. There is a reason suburbs remain widely popular - a fairly natural desire for space, privacy, and quiet. I think to some degree this sort of lifestyle can continue, but it must be designed much differently than the current automobile-dependent/publicly subsidized format.

Fun questions to bat around! 



Public Park over a highway in the US

"Construction has been underway for some time on this public park over a highway in Dallas, TX of all places.  The arts district with the city’s finest museums, concert hall, new opera hall, et all will now be walkable for the thousands of residents residing in "Uptown" who would traditionally have to drive across the highway to cover the short distance to the arts district.

(Thanks to HandMeDowns for the submission!)