Topia. Losing Urban Control

Hagar Abiri

DESSAU 2013. The Bauhaus. A famous avant-garde institute, which changed a conservative approach that had existed for years. Situated in Dessau, in the Saxony-Anhalt region, in east Germany. When visiting Dessau, you learn there is more to it.

When you observe Dessau for a while you start looking at things a bit differently and you understand that this glorified structure, the Bauhaus, is the beating heart in a dying body. It seems like the locals were so busy keeping the history of the Bauhaus alive that they neglected to look into the future. Thus, what used to symbolize progress and innovation now symbolizes a shrinking city, riding on waves of the past.

For instance, the Bauhaus represents industrial mass production (among other things) – an approach that is no longer relevant. Instead of being inspired by what the Bauhaus represented in its early years – innovation and relevance – the foundation focuses on reviving its outdated traditions.

Dessau-Roßlau, a city located in the eastern part of Germany, had 84,969 citizens in 2013. With an average of one child per family, the city shows weak growth rate data. The largest age group, 40-59 years, stands at about 26,250 today.19 42.7% are over the age of 40, while 11.7% are over the age of 75. Kids under the age of 19 make up only about 12% (or 10,344). 50% of them are likely to leave when they reach the age of 19. [1]

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[1] From the “International Building Exhibition Urban Redevelopment Saxony- Anhalt 2010 Dessau- Roßlau”.

[2] As for today there are 54,501 houses in Dessau- Roßlau. Only 3,880 have 2 rooms and only 1,171 have one room. All of the apartments do not include a kitchen (no cabinets,no water tap or sink) which is a big expense, especially for those who come for a short period.
[4] “Night life is an important part of the mix....A vibrant, varied nightlife was viewed by many as another signal that a city “gets it”, even by those who infrequentrly partake in nightlife...with long work hours and late nights, they need to have options around the clock”/ “The Rise of The Creative Class”/Richard Florida Basic Books, New York, (2004), page 225.
[5] Data from the official site of the City of Dessau- Roßlau.
[6] “People today expect more from the places they live. In the past, many were content to work in one place and vacation somewhere else...This is no longer sufficient.”/ “The Rise of The Creative Class”/Richard Florida Basic Books, New York (2004), page 224.
[7] “People were drawn to places known for diversity of thought and open- mindedness. They actively seek out places for diversity and look for signs of it when evaluating communities. These signs include people of different ethnic groups and races, different ages, differen sexual orientations and alternative appearances” / “The Rise of The Creative Class”/Richard Florida Basic Books, New York (2004), page 226.
[8] “Our fundamental social forms are shifting, weak ties have replaced the stronger bonds that once gave structure to society...Insted of communities defined by close associations and deep commitments to family, friends and organizations, we seek places where we can make friends and acquaintancese easily and live quasi- anonymous lives.The decline in the strenght of our ties to people and institutions is a product of the increasing number of ties we have”/ “The Rise of The Creative Class”/Richard FloridaBasic Books, New York (2004), page 7.
[9] From ‘Less is Future’ 19 Cities- 19 Themes. Republic of Harz: Rural Republics and Urban Cluster Cities. Page 807-808.
[10] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 130.
[11] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 32.
[12] “As the fleeting materials of modern construction decompose, the world will retrace our step back to the stone Age as it gradually erodes away all memory of us”/ “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York 2007, page 126.
[13] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 19.
[14] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 30.
[15] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 38.
[16] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 31.
[17] Explained in detail under the heading- ‘Farming’.
[18] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 213.
[19] “Natural Capitalism”/Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins. Hachette Book Group, New York (2000). Page 59.
[20] “Highway accidents cost more than 150$ billion per year, including health care costs, lost productivity, lost tax revenue, property damage, and police, judicial, and social services costs. According to world Resources Institute, highway congestion costs 100$ billion per year in lost productivity; that figure does not include gasoline, increased accidents, and maintenance costs.” /  “Natural Capitalism”/Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins. Hachette Book Group, New York 2000. Page 57.
[21] Page 59.
[22] The idea is taken from Megafon- independent Israeli newspaper, in article by Or Lilu ‘Social justice: the relationship between social revolution” 22,12,2013.
[23] Theory of Alvin Toffler in his book that was published in 1980- “The Third Wave” which talks about the development of society as waves, each wave pushes the other and replaces it. The first wave, is settled society based on agricultural, that pushes hunter-gatherer culture aside. The second wave that replaces the agriculture society is the Industrial Age society (mass production of every aspect of life as well as in the education system and its machinery behaviour, which continues to exist in the third wave) and the third wave is the transformation into symbolic economy based on knowledge and creativity.
[24] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 189.
[25] We can learn from the ruins of Villa Epecuen, Argentina about the outcome of an attempt to control water: In 1985 the city was covered with water up to 10 meter high, when the salty waters of the lake broke through the earthen dam.
[26] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 189.
[27] “In a world without humans, a screeching halt to all artificial farmland fertilization would take instant, enormous chemical pressure off the richest biotic zones on Earth- the areas where big rivers bearing huge natural nutrient loads meet the seas. Within a single growing season, lifeless plumes from the Mississippi to the Sacramento Delta, to the Mekong, Yangtze, Orinoco, and the Nile, would begin to shrink. Repeated flushings of a chemical toilet will steadily clarify the water. A Mississippi Delta fisherman who awakened from the dead after only a decade would be amazed at what he’d find”/ “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 203-204.
[28] “Richard Thompson didn’t know. Nobody did, because plastics havn’t been around long enough for us to know how long they’ll last or what happens to them....All they (Thompson and his team) knew was that soon everything alive would be eating them.”  “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 146.
[29] Page 213.
[30] “Ceramics... since they’re chemically similar to fossils. Unless something falls on them first, they await reburial for the next archaeologist to dig them up.” “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York 2007, page 45.
[31] BBC Documentary, Published on Apr 8, 2012.
[32] “The world without us”/Alan Weisman, New York (2007), page 214.
[33] The following paragraph is based on Jared Diamond’s words quoted in the book “Natural Capitalism” along with the authors text, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins. Hachette Book Group, New York (2000). Page 194.
[34] Wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, barley, cassava, and sorghum, agriculture in general is responsible for 94 percent of ammonia emissions As the Swine Flu and the Mad Cow disease.