How the Industrial Revolution influenced urban design

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How the Industrial Revolution influenced urban design
How the Industrial Revolution influenced urban design

When we talk about the industrial revolution, we often think of large factories, chimneys, rampant population densities, and crowded streets. The immediate picture is always associated with the cities of the industrial era. But we often overlook how our cities have developed.

So how have the processes that accompanied the industrial revolution influenced the design of our cities?

Before the industrial revolution, production and consumption remained separate. They did not participate in public space. Thus, the public space was formed not by producers or their products, but rather by forms of management.

However, production-consumption systems provided the social and economic structure of these places and influenced social life. They provided some form of recognition and participation between those who influenced and those who were influenced by it.

Likewise, an informed consent form is created. This allowed producers to take over the public sphere and begin to shape social life. She projected knowledge of production-consumption as part of the “truth” of proactive experience onto cities and innovation.

Another part of the "truth" was the agreed need for reconciliation and redress for society.

Thus, the role of people as equal participants in the structure was systematically omitted.

Invisible hand

The term “invisible hand” is a look at the invisible forces that shape social life.

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith used the term to suggest that some social and economic outcomes might arise from the actions of individuals. These actions are often unintentional and selfish. This statement follows from his observations of the behavior of capital, labor, the act of production and consumption. This has come to serve as the primary platform for supply and demand theories. This term also influenced the development of the theory of the so-called free market society.

It all started with changes in the structure of production and consumption during the industrial revolution. With the advent of machines and mechanized labor, new production methods emerged that increased production. Cities are turning into places of mass consumption due to the high concentration of people. At the same time, cities became important centers of production and consumption - this gave rise to competition in the market.

Everyone here was striving for maximum production and wanted their product to be the best on the market. The act of production depended on labor, resources and efficiency, while the act of consumption depended on the consumer's desire to purchase a product. This “social contract” between producers and consumers later became the basis for the concept of improvement and innovation.

The city was also influenced by the urbanization process. It started when a group of factories in the region created a demand for factory workers. Secondary and tertiary businesses from the energy, residential, retail and trade sectors have followed this demand. In turn, this created new jobs.

Eventually, with the growing demand for jobs and housing, an urban area was created. After it was industrialized, urbanization continued for a long time. Thus, the region went through several stages of economic and social reforms. This is best illustrated by Mumbai. Here the city developed, adapted and evolved along a continuum even after industrialization.

However, there was another side to this.

Take the colonization of Indian lands, for example. Indian villages were once self-sufficient, both socially and economically. Food crops were mainly grown there. The Industrial Revolution, coupled with colonization, forced farmers to grow cash crops. Craftsmen have lost their value due to the abundance of manufactured materials. This led to the disruption of all social dynamics. This suggests that the so-called invisible forces may even take the path of socio-economic destruction after they have accumulated enough power.

Capitalist cities

It is also worth mentioning the influence of the emerging capitalist economic forms on the city.

During the first and second industrial revolutions, automobiles, the use of oil, coal, electricity, concrete, steel, and modern agriculture peaked. Thanks to these innovations, the design of cities did not include residents as a stakeholder.

With a sudden change in the scale of production and capital accumulation, a new form of capitalism arose known as monopolies. These forms of production suppressed active knowledge production by issuing "patent rights". This shift created dependence on the aforementioned monopolies to adapt their inventions to the public sphere. This allowed them to interfere with planning. They gradually excluded the public from the same decision-making processes in which the public was a more significant stakeholder than capitalism.

Monopolies created modernism's obsession with cities as economic agents. Cities have become places of economic activity. Cities have also become residences for those involved in this activity. This created a systematic view of how labor and capital flows affect the processes of the city.

The basic idea was that capital creates wealth, expands and operates in different circuits, consolidates the labor force, and then switches to a built environment. This idea dominates the real estate industry. People use land, value and investment to grow their social capital, business and resources.

This mindset has reduced the amount of information made available to the public. And thus, they became passive consumers who could be replaced and displaced. This exclusion has diminished public understanding of the processes involved in the creation of the public sphere. It limited public knowledge and information, thereby excluding the concept of "informed consent" from public discourse.

This for the average person seriously impeded the ability and accessibility to influence, shape or in any form impart meaning or interpret the public space.

Vulnerable class

Also, the constant creation of a vulnerable and marginalized class in the city has influenced the shape of our cities.

Take the slum dwellers, for example. Almost every major metropolis is dotted with slums. The cities could not get rid of them. This is because the marginalized classes were created through the socio-economic systems of the city.

This gave rise to a separate circuit - the informal economy. This included a class of people who were no longer dependent on the land. And therefore, they relied on social-urban mobility to sell labor for living. In the cities, you had to pay for everything. Low and uncertain wages create difficult conditions for the poor and vulnerable. In turn, living in appalling conditions and accepting poor wages, they subsidized the city.

In retrospect, these major forces of industrial time continue to influence urban design today.

Production-consumption patterns, urbanization, the invisible hand of the market, vulnerable class and capitalist forms still resonate in our cities. The pros and cons of the individual effects of these processes are themselves another topic of discussion. But it cannot be denied that they played an important role in transforming cities.

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