Joie de Vivre Urbaine

"...And joie de vivre [joy of living] may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life..."

Long ago, writers disparaged cities like London, New York, and Paris, labeling them as hives of disease and destitution. But over time, industrialization and economic growth powered by these urban centers lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, creating a prosperous and secure middle class like the world had never seen. Over the past few decades, we have seen this happen again in China and India. With the rise of ideas like common wealth and the urban planet, it seems less naive each day to believe that this trend could continue moving upward, creating a globalized standard of living (not to be confused with a singular global culture, which would be intensely boring).

But the current model of urban living, with its sprawl, auto-dependancy, and tokenization of nature, is unsustainable at best. If economic development in developing world-cities is to diminish poverty at any notable rate, everyone -- in worlds both "first" and "third" -- must work to bring about the evolution of their cities into healthy, green, globally-minded places. The City As Solution to Climate Change and Globalization Pains has been a popular topic of conversation of late. But how can people in developed countries be persuaded to agree?

As we step into this new Urban Age, those of us arguing for the City As Solution must focus on the joie de vivre urbaine. For cities to reach their full potential as engines for change, the urban chorus will need to grow louder and brighter. The masses should be reminded of the joys and conveniences of living in vibrant, eqitable urban neighborhoods, not guilt-tripped out of their McMansions and driven into gentrifying neighborhoods to exacerbate socioeconomic inequality. Only when a person believes that they will enjoy something -- and that they deserve to -- will they make a real effort to change their way of life.

This week, as Where wraps up its first year in the urblogosphere, each day will feature a post that celebrates the excitement, promise, and possibility of the urban environment. It's Urbanism For Fun (but no profit). A preview:

We'll start off by looking at how Google Earth and online mapping sites are making urban places more exciting by helping urbanites develop a better understanding of their cities, and how this type of technology could affect urban culture and society in the future.

Tuesday: PLAY
Taking another look at mixed-reality gaming, Where will consider this emerging form of entertainment as a possible catalyst for economic development in the near future.

Wednesday: IMAGINE
If you could rethink how cities are built, how would you do it? It's a question many of history's most famous architects have taken on with relish. In a guest post by SOM design associate Ella Peinovich, who participated in an architecture studio that took on this very daunting challenge, we'll learn more about what it's like to go through the process of radically reimagining the urban form.
(This has been edited to reflect a change in content).

Thursday: LEARN
Thursday will feature Where's full review of the buzz-heavy book The Endless City, compliments of Phaidon.

Friday: CREATE
March 21st marks the 365th day since Where's first post. To celebrate this blog's "birthday," a special edition of Weekend Reading will look back on the top ten posts of the past year.


The Blogedanken game will be open to entries through 11:59pm CST, this Saturday, March 22nd. Go play and submit your favorite results for your chance to win a copy of PA Press' Hyperborder.

(Photo from Flickr user Shimrit&Yaar. The original full-color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)

Joie de vivre (Wikipedia)

Hyperborder (Princeton Architectural Press)

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