The Sustainability Fire
BJM 03 - 10 - 2010

Recently many of the cities we have been visiting have had a similar story to tell. They all were at one time consumed by fire. This one event is always influential in the development of the city. Many cities are entirely changed from that point forth; this was the case in Tartu, Estonia. Tartu had developed as many Europeans cities have, piece by piece. This leads to cities with extremely tight buildings and very narrow passageways and allies. After most of the city burned to the ground, some new measures were taken to improve the new version. A majority of the crooked narrow streets were widened and straightened into more practical roadways. Another influence was the change from wooden construction to mandatory stone construction. What had proven itself to work was embraced. The destructive power of fire allowed the city to have a fresh start. They were able to rebuild their city in a more functional and sustainable way. Their new post-fire version of Tartu is the one that still exists today. Holocaustic fires no longer exist in todayís modern city, because of this, poor building techniques have reigned unchecked. What we need is for the sustainability movement to be the modern-day destructive yet rejuvenating fire. There needs to be a sudden halt on all unsustainable building practices; they should be treated more even more dangerous than wooden construction was in the olden days. Many things have proven themselves to be sustainable, we need to embrace these things and build more things in their style. Make sustainable construction mandatory just as stone construction was for Tartu. Sustainability as a design movement has had a very hard time taking hold. Buildings of our modern cities are more dangerous to us and our environment than we can even imagine. It is unfortunate that their danger canít be realized in quite the way fireís can. Without the intensity of fire sustainability will have a very hard time being successful. Hopefully more people will begin to realize the dangers at hand and start fueling the sustainability fire. S

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