In the midst of tourism in the country, I return to the theme of the organic and intelligent city. There is a lot of work to be done for the smart city of the future to be a genuine smart and creative city and not a simple digital machine at the service of a certain technocratic and ultramodern idea of a mass city.
In this sense, there are two fundamental themes, closely associated, that it is important to emphasize.
On the one hand, underlining the landscape distinction, the green spaces and the organic vision of the city, on the other hand, highlighting the intangible resources of memory, imagination and culture in the planning and ordering of the city.
And to illustrate this, we will return, once again, to the architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles (GRT). About the vision and organic recomposition of the city, GRT tells us in very synthetic terms:
– The city is not a puzzle of territorial units designed by the way in which the road structure relates to the type of building, that is, the city is not a zoned set of independent areas, only identifiable by the way in which the car relates to the vehicles. residential blocks;
– Non-identifiable structures and urban voids do not guarantee, by themselves, the constitution of a useful and effective green structure, that is, green spaces cannot be residual spaces, but substantial spaces that organize space, which means that the city must overcome the inadequate conventionalism of the vegetal composition that today involves, for example, the landscaped treatment in roundabouts and separation lanes;
– The image of the city must be defended through a mapped system of views that determines the size of the buildings, the distribution and shape of the vegetation and the framework of the infrastructures and, moreover, in the planning of the city of the XNUMXst century, it is essential to consider units operations with ecological content with planning autonomy, whenever necessary, without which biophysical sustainability, environmental quality and food supply will be at stake;
– In this comprehensive and organic system of communicating vessels, the green plan is an essential instrument in the conception of the city's outdoor spaces, whose design autonomy is required by its own biophysical and cultural background and by the practice of the arts that have long served the construction of the living landscape.
And to complement this organic and circular vision of an intelligent and creative city, nothing better than a few sheets of poetry from nature, a philosophy of the gardens of paradise, a romantic walk through a landscape of aesthetic-literary inspiration.
To make this brief journey, architect GRT tells us very briefly: start by betting on the sublimation of the place, making it pleasant and pleasant, then invest in the presence of water and its aesthetic serenity, thirdly, invest in species that underline the strength of nature and enhance the rhythm of life, then take advantage of the natural luminosity of the spaces through the shadow-light contrast, then let yourself be influenced by the geometry and depth of the perspectives and promote the integration of the garden into the surrounding landscape whenever this is orderly and beautiful, for this to accept the natural order as the basis for designing the garden and value the cultural aspects of the landscape, as the cultural order is the order of humanity, finally, avoid the excesses of decorativism and exalt simplicity in the ordering of the things, because a garden and a landscape are the result of conceptions and projects and never of arrangements or decorations, everything in the right measure.
The eloquence and elegance of these principles speak for themselves. It is now better understood why the concepts of global landscape and landscape unity presided over his conception of land use planning and production systems.
That is, with GRT, the ecological factor, the production factor and the cultural factor are not compartmentalized in administrative silos and, therefore, demand a different conception of administrative policy and policy administration. As simple as that.
Today, in the third decade of the XNUMXst century, distinctive territorial signs (SDT) are the brand image of a territory. One of these signs is the landscape and heritage distinction.
In a time of total tourism, it is not just the gentrification of towns and cities that should concern us, it is also excessive gaming and, above all, the criteria and way in which we dispose of and use scarce resources such as water, soil and vegetation, basically the global landscape that welcomes us.
Another distinctive sign concerns the way art and culture conceive and practice the smart and creative city beyond the merely digital city, since there is no technological determinism, nor is there a brave new world glued to the digital city.
A third distinctive sign concerns the city government, an administration articulated between representative democracy, participatory democracy and collaborative democracy, with the formation of two intelligent and complementary cities, the centralized city under the citizen's store modality and the co-produced city under the form of a decentralized and distributed network of collaborative platforms.
A final distinctive and impressive sign that cannot be underestimated concerns respect for limits and red lines in matters of citizenship, user-friendliness and human rights, as we fear that hyper-speed, hyper-vigilance, hyper-consumption and hyper-individualism will end up colliding, sooner or later, with the city of relationships, public spaces and meeting points where the joy of neighbors and visitors manifests itself, in contrast to the dissolution of places in media and virtual spaces.
Let's not simplify. Perhaps it is time to return to the unitarianism of other times, returning to politics and public causes, rehabilitating the ideological discourse on the occupation of our territory before we have to recover it in any occasional auction here or abroad.
Author António Covas is a Retired Full Professor at the University of Algarve