Leon Krier, the urban critic

It happens rarely, but sometimes you hear of people and ideas that move you. Like a hit of a hammer on your head, they open you a new view on the world. It happened with Scott Adams, with his ideas on talent stacks, management and the importance of persuasion. How to perform on a very primal level. To Nassim Taleb, who I fanatically follow after reading his ideas on antifragility and especially skin in the game. If you have something to lose, you will not perform stupidly. Nevertheless JP’s rediscovery of the Myth and the work of Carl Gustav Jung. Event though Jung was probably wrong 60% of the time, his ideas on the archetypes, hidden in our stories, is something which got me to think.

But let’s move to Leon Krier, a City planning critic from Luxemburg. If you don’t know him, he was Prince Charles favorite city planner, a harsh critic of modernism and an advocate for vernacular, community based urban development. Born in the Modernist era, he was one of the first critics of the modernism and a strong proponent of vernacular, community-based city planning. He won my attention with the following caricature. During my student years, I was often asking myself why are we design buildings, which do not fit to peoples’ expectations of good buildings. I was often criticised to having different ideas than the rest of the class. Later on Taleb explained it, in his own exaggerated style, that “Architects plan to impress other architects, not the clients”. Not always true. But the problem remains. People expect different buildings than what they get.

Why I was so touched? Probably because his sketches work as memes. Brief, funny, with a simple message. He captures paradoxes of modern urban planning and exposes the issues we may feel, but don’t yet see. He is a critic scholar, a type of person I usually don’t like that much. They expose problems, but rarely push for solutions. Taleb is a similar type of person. It is important to listen and follow then, though, even if they leave yo.u with a feel of frustration.

And now just scroll and enjoy his Memes:

This one frustrated me for ages – Suburban homes with little useless plots of land left and right of the building. The only typology, where this works, is in Stuttgart multi family homes (between buildings are always 4 m gaps as fire protection measure. They create a great streetscape.)

This is what makes italian cities so beautiful

using organs to show the failure of zoning.. priceless.

Why I was so touched? Probably because his sketches work as memes. Brief, funny, with a simple message.

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