Better Buildings for Better Communities?

Welcome to Corviale, a one-kilometer superstructure that looks like it took design cues right out of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Built between 1972 and 1982 in the outskirts of Rome in an effort to alleviate the ballooning urban population, the complex currently houses 6,000 people in 1,000 apartments. Critics, including Nikos Salingaros, professor of mathematics at University of Texas at San Antonio, have called it uninhabitable for many reasons, including its lack of greenery and pedestrian walkways. On top of this, Corviale has also become a hotbed for crime and illegal squatters.

The solution? Salingaros proposes that a drastic restructuring and rebuilding of the site will solve more than an eyesore:
Commerce did in fact develop as appropriate to the Corviale's geometry of dreary and dark corridors. The Corviale is recognized as a thriving center for the narcotics trade, prostitution, and a variety of criminal activities. The business perfectly matches the architectural and urban form. If you want retail commerce and schools, then you simply need to change the geometry.
If we take Corviale as a case study in urban planning, could it be possible that architectural transformations hold the key to turning failing neighborhoods into flourishing communities?

Head to Planetizen for Salingaros's op-ed.


(cc) by flickr user matteo dudek