“The first wave of modernism was about beauty and sensuality, but the second wave may be about confrontation – confronting the mistakes of the past,” said Brad McKee, Editor, Landscape Architecture Magazine, at The Second Wave of Modernism II: Landscape Complexity and Transformation, a day-long conference organized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. McKee described the changes that have overcome American cities: the rise of global competition and the decline of large-scale manufacturing, the mass number of companies and people who fled industrial waterfronts, leaving toxic wastelands. “This is the industrial legacy designers confront.”
He added that toxic brownfield sites have proliferated over the years with devastating but often undiagnosed effects on families. The idea that human health and the built environment are linked has only been gaining steam in the past 10 years. But now at least, “obesity, diabetes, asthma, depression, anxiety can all be attributed to factors in the environment.” For McKee, the public is also now skeptical about “big ideas”, grand concepts imposed by policymakers and designers. Urban dwellers can see the damage these ideas can cause so the next waves of Modernism in cities may focus more on “places for people,” and integrating public health and ecological sustainability into design.
PLANNERS NORTH, Town Planners, Northern Rivers, NSW