Thursday 19 November 2015

Urban planning utopia

Portland is often described in a utopian sense within the planning world however, it is not until visually seeing and experiencing the city someone can completely understand why it is highly regarded for its sustainability and liveability qualities.  The pre-tour research I undertook established significantly high expectations of Portland visions in which appear to have been relatively accurate including the numerous tree lined streets, shared public recreational spaces, extensive bike infrastructure, accessible and diverse transit options and numerous shops and eateries available with the ‘Downtown’ area.

Whilst there was literature which described how the gentrification of many areas of Portland had displaced many lower socioeconomic citizens, I didn’t realise until observing the streets of Portland over the past couple of days the extent of homelessness particularly, around the eastern industrial zone of the city. Whilst learning about the proposed gentrification of The Salmon Factory to become a niche market manufacturing and bike delivery service hub it does question if it will further displace members of the community in the future.

Another aspect that was not extensively documented is the resistance to many of Portland’s economical transit system. Many residents including those from particular surrounding counties did not support the introduction of light rail or the recent orange line extension to Milwaukie. Whilst sustainability is the way of the future some people within the region are not accepting to change and would rather drive cars and contribute to global warming.

Lastly the food culture and sustainability culture of the general community is impressive and much more innovative and extensive than I imagined. Now a firm structure plan has been secured and is being achieved more emphasis is being placed on creating healthy, affordable and accessible local produce through farming connections, wholesalers and farmers markets. The example of Ecotrust really displays what can be achieved through stakeholders and government funding and good contemporary architecture can achieve in order to reinvent a historic building and create a new use.

Leah Morris 


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