Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Simulated Urbanism

Talya ten Brink
Themed open malls, or ‘festival marketplaces,’ are a growing type of privately owned open space that threatens the vitality of pedestrian urban environment. To highlight the contrast between the festival marketplace and the public urban environment, this paper will compare photographs of the festival marketplace of University Village, a privately owned commercial development in Seattle, with photographs of the adjacent neighborhood. The Google map below shows University Village (site of photos 1-4) and the adjacent Union Bay – Blakeley Neighborhood (site of photos 5-9). UVillage exhibits a simulated city of culture and community, but in reality it replaces real community with marketing for consumption of standardized products. Because UVillage is managed in a top-down approach to profit the owners of UVillage, it does not encourage all types of storefronts, activities, or user groups. The strict controls in UVillage hinder ad-hoc urbanism. The adjacent Union Bay – Blakeley Neighborhood is suffering economically and socially, yet it serves the public because it allows the layering of incremental adjustments in public open space.

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