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I found a great TED talk by an architect who has devoted his time to documenting the undesigned built environment.  Basically, he means shanty towns.  These are communities of extremely poor people who build up cities completely without centralized planning or approval.  The result is a rich variety of different solutions to different problems that are sometimes quite interesting. He sums up the talk expressing his disappointment with most governments and developers and their efforts to provide housing because they are cookie cutter solutions that result in a ‘plague of sameness’.

The ‘plague of sameness’ is caused by the attitude of people believing that their neighbor is lowering their property value and thus, they should enlist the municipality to enforce “nicer” uses of property with the police power of the state.  The result is everyone must get approval for the paint color from the homeowners association.

I’ll admit, it isn’t as attractive looking at a slum as it is a mansion.  But the mansions get kind of boring when there are hundreds of them that look all alike.

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