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Behold: the “King Toronto” artificial mountain-scape of condos, now under construction in The Great White North’s biggest city. (The project is located on King Street, so the name issue is simpler than just royalist megalomania.) The design, by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), nicely illustrates one the chief urban pathologies of our time: the wish to replace truly urban fabric with representational simulacra of Nature-this-and-that. The mania has accelerated lately with the hysteria over climate change, but it has been operating for decades. Wherever there is a large-scale urban demolition, the activists militate to turn the property into a “green-space” — which you may note is an abstraction, since it is rarely tied to any precise typologic understanding of form (do you mean a “park,” a “ballfield,” a “garden,” a what?). Why do they do this? Because citizens have completely lost faith in the architectural profession after 80-odd years of boring glass boxes, incomprehensible concrete blobs, wannabe-UFO’s, menacing needle-shaped towers, Cor-Ten rusty steel museum facades, library additions that look like tumors, etc!, etc!, etc!, in the immortal words of Yul Brynner…. Forget architecture… just give us… Nature!!!

King Toronto is the next step in this fatuous process. Whereas Boston’s “Big Dig” of the early 2000s ended up producing nothing on-the-surface besides a giant ambiguous grassy strip (“The Rose Kennedy Greenway”) instead any new buildings, King Mountain gives you an awesome mini mountain range complete with simulated “forest” concealing offices and flats within. Torontonians can feel morally secure… they are on Nature’s side! They are paying homage to the wonderful places that the city ain’t, the wild country!!! The result of this absurdity is the renunciation of urban form, per se, especially traditional formality as expressed in building tectonics and geometry.

The catch to all this — as I’ve averred before in this space — is that the age of the high tech mega-city is over. The coming scramble for resources and scarcity of capital guarantee that our cities will contract a lot, and that the process will be painful and messy as people and tribes battle over the districts with some kind of redeeming value — human scaled low-rise old townes, waterfronts…. Among the features of this process is that mega-structures will become difficult or impossible to care for. Many will simply be abandoned. Five hundred years from now, “King Toronto” may acquire enough windblown detritus to actually become a couple of hills on the otherwise flat collar of Lake Ontario.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

11 Responses to “August 2023”

  1. mr mowm August 2, 2023 at 4:21 pm #

    Fidel Jr. creating his 15 minute city.

  2. DaveO907 August 2, 2023 at 4:45 pm #

    She’s a beauty… of incongruenty… ‘n stuff.

    (I had to go by the email pic. The pic wouldn’t show on this page on either Firefox or Safari.) But, yeah.

  3. FGB3 August 2, 2023 at 5:18 pm #

    The photo of this eyesore did not display on this page, so I’ve only seen the “thumbnail” image on my e-mail from you.

    With no more detail to go on, here’s my first impression: This Toronto Ugly looks like the skyline of some of those shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro, where the poor have built one little shack on top of another, all the way to as high as the load will bear.

    Maybe the architects are channeling their inner Klaus Schwab? ‘You vill leeve in squalor and be happy”.

  4. drhooves August 2, 2023 at 6:50 pm #

    Looks more like one of those “into the ruins” pictures of building in decay in 300 years.

  5. tom clark August 3, 2023 at 1:06 pm #

    Error 404…Page not found! The world crumbles before us…

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  6. JackStraw August 4, 2023 at 6:57 am #

    One of the most basic elements of building design is the shedding of water, the reasons of which are obvious to any homeowner. I see an endless problem here with all of these different mini-roofs and so many fail points for the elements to enter.

    They’ll make a killing using it as a dystopian film location.

  7. Ishabaka August 7, 2023 at 11:57 am #

    A little tree growing on your roof is cute. Then the tree grows 30 feet high and weighs 30 tons…….

  8. tucsonspur August 9, 2023 at 3:26 am #

    A colossal contretemps, a conglomeration of cubic consternation, a rogue Rubik’s cube recklessly reproducing.

    An edgy, egotistical, epileptic edifice, a structural epitaph for a doomed age.

    Nice reference above to Rio’s shanty towns.

  9. Cagliostro@23 August 15, 2023 at 6:03 am #

    Bjarking Mad or the dogs dinner

  10. smoothtom August 27, 2023 at 11:26 pm #

    I see ol’ Jim is still pissing and moaning about the things, both real and imagined, that make his addled old brain feel uncomfortable. You’re a bore and a boor, Jim.

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