Thursday, 26 November 2015

‘Innovation or anarchy? Why does it have to be one or the other?

From looking at the past 'some of the most anarchist views can result in transforming into some of the most innovative designs’. This is what I was told when I talked to a local resident of Austin at The Salt Lick and brought up the basis of our Texas blog theme. I haven't been in Austin or Texas long enough to make a valid decision about what unusual ideas have resulted in changes that benefit the cities and their residents.

Over the course of our time in Texas, the one aspect of planning that had me in awe was the housing estate and community facilities of Mueller, where Design Workshop’s Rebecca and Steven live with their daughter. The wide variety of housing types helps to establish the area into allowing a wide range of residents being able to live in the area, even though they are at different levels of income. The seemingly wide variety of open space allowances provide for mixed usage and social connectivity, from using the green spaces for social gatherings, the weekly farmers' market on Mueller Lake Park and even the book share system that runs through the estate. Provided the planning for the estates shopping complex and associated buildings are completed, the area would only continue to attract residents and visitors to the area, and in my opinion the area seemed a dream destination to raise a family.

But whilst it has the seemingly successful estate, there are also issues in Austin, with the public transportation network being the most apparent to me due being reliant upon it as a tourist. As I only used the transportation for one day, and only two times across that day, I understand that I don't have the right to declare that it is unsuccessful but poor signage has persuaded me to feel that it is the case. Our first usage of the bus network resulted in us incorrectly travelling on the wrong bus route and having to walk a considerable distance to reach our original targeted destination. Positively though, it only costs $2.5 for 24 hours access of PT which is a cheap alternative for those aware of how the system works to allow them to cheaply travel around instead of being reliant on cars like majority of Texans and Americans seem to be.

A secondary issue of the public transport buses is how they become moving roadblocks, in the way that they stop the flow of traffic behind them while doing pickups on the sides of roads. Personally we caused a roadblock when 15 of us had to get onto a bus and pay for our tickets one at a time, causing the bus to stop the flow of traffic on one of the two lanes for about five minutes. Which would be a major negative aspect in which it causes issues in the flow of roads in the middle of the busy city centre.

Staying out of the city makes it difficult to get between downtown and the outer areas, personally hard to get to the hotel where we were staying. Uber and taxis are the main means of transportation.

Houston also had some potentially successful plans in the near future that will develop both the midtown if the city and the Memorial Park that runs along the city region. Both bring potential for successful development to the region for the present as well as planning for the future, which is seemingly only recently occurring in Houston’s history.

Jeremy Brown