To get us out of our cars you must first improve our homes
'The car is so much more than a means of transportation: it is a focus of intense emotional activity. Within its confines lives are lived.
Distinct from the rest of the world, it is a place where personal conversations can take place freely - accusations, apologies, explanations, assignations - a place where dreams are imagined and plans are hatched.' - Judith Hoos Fox.
'Speed has been the mechanical soul of modernity, not only for the avant gardes whose aspirations to burn the libraries and wreck the museums transformed art, but for entrepreneurs, inventors, adventurers and all other apostles of progress who were captivated by the impulse to go faster and travel further, to dynamise life and propel it into the future - by force if necessary.' - Scott McQuire.
'Time and space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.' - Marinetti 1909.
Today the Italians talk of the 'slow city movement'as a reaction to an overly stressed lifestyle that is often associated with urban situations. No fast food but slow food. This plea to rediscover a perceived quality of life that seems to have vanished might even encourage the Italians to adopt cricket, the very epitome of leisurely pace within the sporting world. In London, we are about to experience the restricted car zone as a way of diminishing speedy metal sculptors disrupting the rapidly emerging pavement life, which suggests a return to a social city.
In Rotterdam I had a long debate about the creation of terminal car parks which allow the cars to enter but not drive around.
Birmingham was once the most exciting car city in Europe. Not only did it have Spaghetti Junction but also a semi-sunken, dual carriageway inner ring road that afforded glimpses of the city of the future to a virgin 15- year-old's eyes. Today they are slowly removing this concrete corset, but sometimes I find in myself a nostalgic regret.
I constantly ask myself whether people who have taken this 'moving platform' (Peter Smithson) to the very root of culture can give it up so easily. It has been suggested that the rear seat of the car was invented as a frame from which Hollywood films could be made. The excitement, the style, the meaning and the 'behaviour' that surrounds this 20th-century beast is endemic and is not given up easily. If they were eradicated I am sure they would be replaced by large screen virtual projections in people's living rooms in much the same way that one of the German cable channels screens real time drives between a variety of German cities, thereby using the frame of the windscreen to capture an ever-changing perspective.
The freedom of personal transport in a personalised place is difficult to give up.
Today, with our entertainment centres, telephones and talking navigation systems, most cars are vastly superior to the flat or house that their owners live in.
If we are to reduce traffic, and all the disbenefits that go with it, I believe that the house must be improved so it has the same level of appeal as the car. The first and obvious job is to put the home in the right place so that 'being at home'and enjoying a presence in the city is appreciated. I have discovered that many people in Barnsley would like to live in the middle. The proposed vision of the inhabited wall that defines the city, with terminal parking underneath it, conforms to capacity building, reduces use of the car and promotes street life. In fact, all the things that follow government policy.
WA, from the lounge of Hotel Das Trieste, Vienna