Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Demonization of Elevators and their Users

We've tumbled down this staircase before, haven't we?

From today's Guardian, an article called "Can Architecture Make You Fat?":
The architect Will Alsop takes a stronger line: "If you really wanted to do something about it," he says, "you could take all the elevators out of all the buildings in London. Then people would be fit."
No, crowds would just look more fit because nobody with a disability that prevents stairclimbing (and that doesn't just mean wheelchair users) would be visible in public spaces anymore--not to mention some pregnant women, anyone pushing a stroller, etc. etc. Only the tidy fit people with no icky wheels, canes, Just like the bad old days (which aren't even over yet, of course, by a long shot). Do "green" architects and their admirers really want to go back to that being the goal, rather a clear violation of civil rights laws? Is the social exclusion and stigmatization of a large segment of society such an easy option? Apparently for some, it is. Be afraid. And be visible, while you still can be.


Anonymous said...

Lest anyone believe that making existing buildings accessible ends the battle over ignorance, eh? Every new building, every new architect, every new social movement for new urbanism, "eco-slobbiness" or whatever, seems to require a new round of either re-education or flat-out protest.

Andrea said...

He's just one person. One ignorant person; but he's not all green folks. He's not even all new urbanism folks.

I'm an environmentalist and very much support new urbanism and efforts to make our cities more compact and less wasteful. And my first thought when reading that quote (on a green blog a few days back) was shock and outrage. Eliminating elevators is the dumbest thing I've ever heard, when there are so many other options that would benefit *both*--like better public transit, closer proximity between different land uses, more accessible public services, more compact cities, green roofs, etc.

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