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My Thoughts on Planned Cities...
Not all cities develop organically, not all cities grow graduall over time.
Some are planned, pre-thought and built according to strict rules and requirements. These cities are the "planned cities".
To me, some of these planned cities seem attractive in their own way, but they certainly lack the charm, the feel of "genuine" cities, which have developed over centuries, growing organically.
Planned cities are like perfect-looking GMO plants, while genuine cities are, by comparison, like plants which grow naturally in forests.
Or, I might also say: a "real city" with genuine history forms over a longer period of time just like red wine, as opposed to a planned city, which just pops-up like Coke.
Examples of planned cities: Brasília (Brazil), La Plata (Argentina), Canberra (Australia), Petaling Jaya (Malaysia), Putrajaya (Malaysia), Cyberjaya (Malaysia), Sapporo (Japan), Dunaújváros (Hungary), Valletta (Malta), Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Teresina (Brazil), Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria) etc..
More of less known, regardless... they're all utopian, artificial and with not much vibe.
Until the publication of this article, I had the chance to visit two of these: Malta's Valletta and Malaysia's Putrajaya.
Interestingly, the old Valletta is a planned city too.
Just that the Maltese capital was planned and constructed back in the mid 1500's. Since then, Valletta has had plenty of time to "develop and grow a soul".
Today, Valletta is a beautiful historic hotspot with cultural subtance. Aside from other planned cities, the Maltese capital didn't seem so strongly pre-conceived except for its fortified walls...
Later I traveled to Malaysia and took a few hours to visit Putrajaya (back then in 2011 it was still young with many projects still undergoing).
Kuala Lumpur will always have something that Putrajaya - the planned capital - doesn't have.
KL has a rich history and diversity, a vintage feel in its historic core, as well as a cultural vibe that Putrajaya might never ever have.
The latter is in the beginning phase of the construction and this can be strongly felt: few people on its streets, poor transportation system and modern house blocks that popped-up here and there on its preconceived layout.
It takes ages to get from one place of the city to the other and although I did enjoy a few nice views, it didn't quite feel like a real city. More like a modern residential district.
Quite many planned cities seem barren with not much dynamism on their streets, because the designers and engineers seemed to focus on the "things" rather than on the people.
There's generally a lot of space.
And a lot less life.
But there are forced ways to generate the presence of "life" in an otherwise lifeless speculative concrete establishment. Statues, parks, colourful ronaments here and there act like substitutes of "what otherwise could have been there".
No matter how many surrogates of life they may place in these utopian cities, to me they will still feel artificial.
These cities are rationally put-together and therefore bear the marks of a certain rigidity and lack history, which leads to a lack of authentic culture. And if that doesn't exists, nothing can compensate for it.
Planned cities may be technically perfect, but bleak. Some even desolate, where life is grey.
Thus, the entire city can look like a vast minimalist modern art museum. Sadly, some resemble only an empty Le Corbusier-designed concrete museum without the art in it.
Yet, a planned city can be a boasting symbol of national pride, reflecting perfection - a place where everything runs according to plans.
What do you think about planned cities?
Have you visited any planned cities?
Don't hesitate to leave your comment down below!
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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