06
Sep

2010

Elevated Beauty

Post by Steven Dale

Chicago's 'L' elevated subway system is one of the most well-known elevated subway systems in the western world. Image by clarkmaxwell.

Elevated roadways, busways, light rail lines, subways, automated people movers and cable cars are far cheaper to build than underground systems. They’re not as cost-effective as street-level systems, but street level systems are subject to all the whims and unpredictability of intermingling with other forms of traffic.

Problem is, most architects, urban designers and politicians will complain about elevated systems as an eyesore; detrimental to the urban fabric. It’s an argument that has little merit, least of all because they have so little evidence of it.

They’ve seen how ugly, elevated infrastructure can abuse a neighborhood and have decided (yes, decided) that all forms of elevated infrastructure are ugly and abusive. It demonstrates just how little imagination and creativity our existing planning regimes possess.

Just because most elevated infrastructure is ugly doesn’t mean it must be ugly. At worst, ugly is a choice. At best, ugly is an opportunity to be beautiful.

An ancient Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain. Image by Éole.

See what I mean?



Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Comments

  1. reuse of another beauty: http://www.architonic.com/ntsht/a-railroad-runs-through-it/7000492
  2. LX, Right on the money there. I think we really have to rethink this notion that elevated structures are ugly. After all, isn't most of a city constructed above ground? It's a question of how something is designed, not what it's meant for. Look at the Moscow subway system: One would think underground tunnels and stations are sure to be utilitarian and ugly. Yet from what I know (and I've never seen them first-hand, mind you), they're architectural treasures known the world over. Again: Ugly is a choice.