"It is not enough to seek the beauty of design. More precious still is the service we offer to another kind of beauty: people’s quality of life, their adaptation to the environment, encounter and mutual assistance."
--"Laudato Si," Papal encyclical on the environment and human ecology, September 2015
The Washington Post today carries an article about this week's Papal encyclical on the environment and human ecology, Laudato Si, focusing on the Pope as an urban planner. Here are some excerpts from the article:
The Pope, it turns out, is an urban planner. In a few paragraphs embedded in the middle of his epic environmental encyclical published this week, he managed to tie together affordable housing, mass transit, parking, inequality, architecture, public space and segregation (perhaps no surprising feat given his startling facility in this same document connecting fossil fuels, solar panels, animal rights and recycling).
The way we design communities, he argues — and this is basically the central tenet of urban planning — is vital to the kind of lives people experience within them. And so sprawling, car-dependent places force us to spend our lives unhappily idling in traffic. Expensive and overcrowded places rob residents of the dignity of having a good home. Great public spaces, by contrast, bring us together. . . .
The quality of life in cities has much to do with systems of transport, which are often a source of much suffering for those who use them. Many cars, used by one or more people, circulate in cities, causing traffic congestion, raising the level of pollution, and consuming enormous quantities of non-renewable energy. This makes it necessary to build more roads and parking areas which spoil the urban landscape."