People often bemoan the spread of malls, suburban strips,
subdivisions, and other sprawling places in contemporary America.
But are these places as bad as critics claim? In Sprawling
Places, David Kolb questions widely held assumptions about our
Kolb agrees there is a lot not to like about many contemporary
places, but to write them off simply as commodified "nonplaces"
does not treat them critically. Too often, Kolb says, aesthetic
character and urban authenticity are the focus of critics, when it
is more important to understand a place's complexity and
connectedness. Kolb acknowledges that the places around us
increasingly have banal exteriors, yet they can be complex and can
encourage their inhabitants to use them in multiple, nonlinear
ways. Ultimately, Kolb believes human activity within a place is
what defines it. Even our most idealized, classical places, he
shows, change over the course of history when subjected to new
linkages and different flows of activity.
Engaging with the work of such writers and critics as Henri
Lefebvre, Manuel Castells, Karsten Harries, and Christian
Norberg-Schulz, Kolb seeks to move discussions about sprawl away
from the idea that we must "choose between being rooted in the
local Black Forest soil or wandering in directionless space." By
increasing our awareness of complexity and other issues, Kolb hopes
to broaden and deepen people's thinking about the
contemporary built environment and to encourage better designs in
Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology, Architecture and Architectural History
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