Monday, November 07, 2005

Projectile Violence: Architecture of Riots

"What hope does a young person have who's been born in a quartier without a soul, who lives in an unspeakably ugly high-rise, surrounded by more ugliness, imprisoned by gray walls in a gray wasteland and condemned to a gray life, with all around a society that prefers to look away until it's time to get mad, time to FORBID."
--Francois Mitterrand (1990)
Samizdata hits on one more reason for the rioting, besides the Islamist influence and the non-integrationalist policies of the Republic:
While trying to sort out my thoughts concerning the mayhem engulfing the huge public housing projects ringing Paris for the last week or more (11 days' running) it struck me that one of the basic problems is just how dreadful is the style and character of the architecture of such places. Among the many contributory factors to the present dismal mood in poorer parts of France, it seems to me, is the relentlessly cheerless atmosphere of such places. Many of the buildings are vast tower blocks, without gardens or private enclosed spaces. Long walkways - ideal for muggers and drug dealers - connect the blocks. Without an organic sense of place, there is also a lack of spontaneous neighbourliness that is much easier to create in a terraced street.
Even downtown Paris has some of this awful architecture...It reeks of some Orwellian nightmare of drab concrete and totalitarian authority. On the way to Versailles, these hideous buildings stretch out for miles.

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