Some thoughts about Silent Spring and The Death And Life Of Great American Cities

Can you imagine that we will live in a planet which without birds and flowers? Can you bear that we will have a cold and quiet spring and there are no growing trees and animals running on the farmland? Can you imagine that our homeland will be covered with poisonous chemicals instead of beautiful snows or clean rains? I think the answer is no definitely. However, I found it truly happened from the book called Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. She describes a faked city which is scared and grim but it is the model for many existing towns in the world.

Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Bird seems like a weak element for our life compared with those water resources or soil that provides necessities to our daily life. That’s why many people didn’t really care about birds when begin to disturb our nature balance. The book said that we almost cannot see any birds after spraying DDT chemicals. As more and more report appeared in front of the public’s eyes, people suddenly realize that we didn’t see birds for a long time. Some bird species already extinct and some became endangered species. That’s a signal from all the birds for human.The destruction is not directly on the bird itself. People always ignore one very important thing that nature is a cycle. Every natural species relies on other species. When human broken the Ecological chain, there will be one after another problem appeared. The best example in Rachel’s book is the disease of Dutch elm. We all know that tree is the home of birds and more than ten thousands of bird species lived in the forest. The spray of chemicals directly leads to death of birds. There is no difference between shooting birds or even worse. The DDT entered into earthworms and was eaten by birds. The spray of DDT is not only killed the American elms, earthworms and robin birds, but also killed a large amount of pests on the trees. Also, it slow down the process of natural replace since birds need to spray the seed of plants and earthworms need to digest the leaves. The loss of food also affected the life of swallow. People begin to complain about the decline of swallow and they know that the entire phenomenon was caused by the chemicals sprayed on trees.I want to share those thoughts above because when I researched the animal species for the Marin city project and watched some articles mentioned about birds.

After we know that how those human interventions influence our environment, let’s look at some planning of the city. I want to mentioned about one book which is infuential book, The Death And Life Of Great American Cities. It’s an interesting book since it argued some statement which sounds right but it is not. She mentioned a question that why those parks always have large open space but no one come to the space. Some design for parks sounds like will be beneficial for people but it didn’t. How people use the neighborhood parks and their real requirement will be the most important factor for the design of parks. The value of park will be changed as the changes of the city. A large part of parks become useless or always empty because it didn’t embody the value of the space. People walking back and forth but never want to stay must have some reasons. From Jacob’s opinion, I think it’s a really complex research. It not only related to the daily activities and need from surrounded people, but also related to the society status change and long-term value. Any site is not defined by designers but by locals. That also remind me of what we learnt about Frederick Olmsted from the LA171 historical American Lnadscape.

In Philadelphia, there were 4 residential squares which have same size, same age and same original uses but have different fates. (Jacob) Therefore, designers should go to investigate people’s activities and design corresponding spaces. There are some small details that reflect on your whole narratives such as safety problems and width of pedestrian path. If people even don’t willing to walk inside your design of space, the more complicated or more beautiful design shapes aren’t make sense. The idea of the book also makes me think about my own design for studio class. Trying to stand on the perspective of residents not designers,think about how to make a community open space, the gathering space near lagoon more effective and attractive?

Work Cited

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. London: Penguin Books, in Association with Hamish Hamilton, 2015.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Modern Library, 2011.



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