incorporating cars into the cities

The reading “Mediator of Modernity” by Per Lundin had me pondering wether the ideas of the American way of life gained hegemony in Europe after the War or were kept at arms length by the Europeans countries not eager to appropriate those notions.
Certain elements of the American culture were picked by the Europeans and assimilated to the re-building of the post-war societies. Ultimately, post-was Europe is best described as a process of selective appropriation (pick and choose) rather than the wholesale acceptance or rejection of American ideals and models.

The post-War Europe was eager for modernity in its post-war reconstruction efforts. The period also fostered an economical growth and a mass motoring in Europe. Unlike most American cities, which had grown with the automobile (and still facing challenges), the Europeans cities are not designed to accommodate this change.

The planners were thus force to innovate in order to address the new challenges imposed on the cities by the automobiles. The automobile as forced to re-think and re-shape the urban image unlike anything else before or after. It also became a pressing problems on European cities that have grown for century without it and very suddenly need to make space for the increasing number.

Should motor trafic be restricted or embrace?

Time as shown us that the European cities were able to adapt to the automobile by creating their own model. They emphasis on alternate ways of transportation and the design of their city is more convenient for the pedestrians and short commute. The relative proximity from everything make owning a car futile for many city resident.
Us Canadian, faced with different spacial challenges, would have a lot to learn from the planning and incorporation of the automobile in European cities. I feel like most European cities are planned for people and adapted for cars were as here we assit to the opposite tendency.

Monument City: revisiting three important monuments of the Canadian Capital

Monument City: Memory, National belonging and the social lives of monuments
A reflection on the lecture of the guest speaker Dr. Tonya Davidson, of Briarson University
November 6th 2015.

Dr. Davidson delivered an interesting lecture on the social lives of statues and demonstrated how monuments have the power to both confirm and disrupt dominant narratives of nationhood and belonging. She took for example three important monuments located in the national capital city of Canada namely the National War Memorial, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and the Enclave the Women Movement. Dr. Davidson then reflected on how monuments contribute to the production of urban space by the biases of nostalgia, rationalism and protest.

The National War Museum
Dr. Davidson argues that the components of the monuments should change over time since war memories are evolving. The monuments is a representation of what War memories should be for us Canadians. Although, that monument is offering a limited way to remember the war loses. The main focus of the monument is on the Battle of Vimy Ridge and leaves very little space to celebrate the Canadian war effort that is ongoing.Dr.Davidson deplores that the monument focus too much on one element instead of celebrating Canadian war effort as a whole. She also deplores that this monument is unable to evolve with time. The monument is arguably a re-position of the Canadian war memories under the British imperialism and forget the more contemporary Heroes.

Canadian Tribute to Human Right
The monument is a Polish-Canadian initiative and a celebration of all Human rights. When visiting the monument we are invited to walk through it and admire the “House of Canada” on the inside. The walls are ornamented with writings in the First Nation languages of the Ottawa region. The outside is walls have writing in French, English and the first line of the declaration of Human Rights is visible at the top of the monument. The monument is one of the first one in Ottawa to include the First Nation heritage. The monument is a popular “platform” for many groups of protesters. This last point nuance the use of the monument, renders it ambivalent.

Enclave the Women’s Movement
The monument was erected shortly after the “École Polytechnique massacre”. To recall the details of that tragic day, a man open fired on a group of female trade students and killed 14 of them. The tragedy happened in Montreal on December 6, 1989 and was motivated by sexism and a personal fight against feminism. The monument acts as a commemoration of the events but also as a general stand against violence directed at women. The monument is a response to a lack of women and feminism language amongst the other monuments. The monuments also display the name of all the women that were murdered in Ottawa between 1992 and 2000 when the movement had to come to an end due to a lack of space. The spacial limitation cast a shadow on what the monument tried to achieve. At the same time the lack of space is a quiet but powerful reflection on violence against women and the important space it (unfortunately) occupies in our society. The monument is at the heart of many debates and reinforces the idea that systematic violence is hard to assimilate to the culture. It is a powerful symbol for the sex equality debates.

The Moscow Metro

The metro of Moscow was built in 1930 under Joseph Stalin rule. The project was realized in four stages. The first of the four stages was completed in 1935 when the first line, measuring 11 kilometres was open to the public. The second stage was completed in 1938 before the outbreak of WW2. The third stage was delayed, but not interrupted by the War, and two more sections were put in service. The completion of the third stage, in spite of the War, is in itself a tribute to the efficiency and capability of the Soviets. In the stations built during that period, the traditional socialist designs are replaced by war motifs. The two stations built during the third stages were inaugurated in 1943 and 1944. The fourth stage of the original plan begun after the War. The decoration and design of the last stage is arguably considered the best of all four. The construction of an even deeper section of the metro began during the Cold War era. The stations were planned to double up as shelter in the event of a nuclear war.

The Moscow Metro is no ordinary underground railway system. Stalin’s vision was to create unique stations that would double as palaces for the people of the Soviet-Union. The project was so successful that the Moscow metro is classified as historic monuments. An estimated 358000 meter square of marble was used to build sculptures, mosaics and columns that compose the decor of the miniatures underground palaces that is the Moscow metro. They depict, within the socialists limits, the great events of the ancient and modern Russian history. The realization of the magnificent project required an estimated 75000 people, mostly from the mining industry. Thousands of volunteers also participated in Stalin’s grandiose project. The metro of Moscow remains the biggest one in the world even to this day. As of 2015, the Moscow metro has 197 stations and its railway is 329 km long and mostly underground.


The initial construction was on average 40 meters deep (nowadays its deepest section is 74 meters) and offered a shelter to thousands of moscovites during the Second World War air raids. Stalins agenda of security and protection was hardly a secret when building the metro. Underneath the marble and beautiful frescos lays steel columns and concrete walls built to withstand a series of bomb attacks on Moscow. The animosity climate that reign during the 1930’s indicate the inevitability of a Nazi attack on Moscow. Stalin therefore used the metro as a passive defence mechanism thus protecting thousands of citizens. The Metro is also home to one of Russia’s greatest mysteries. If the protection agenda was known, the mystery behind “metro 2” still remain an unsolved puzzle of the Soviet Union. The station Chistye Prudy is believe to lead the way to a secret metro line laying profoundly under the city. Speculation has it that the metro line is design to be used by the officials as a head-quarter if the city ever comes under attack. The lines would connect the Kremlin, the Federal Security Services (FSB) head quarters, the ministry of defence and the airport. It is suggested that it was one of Stalin’s project in his paranoid need of security and protection. Certain documents retrieved by Washington allude to the project but its existence remains a mystery.
Confidential state secrets aside, the construction of the Moscow metro is an incredible achievement. The record time in which it was built demonstrate to the socialist sympathizer the efficiency of the Regime. Its beauty and palatial allure pay tribute to the people of Russia and their National History in a magnificent way.Kievskaya_KL_2010

A French journalist investigation of the mystery behind Metro 2. Russie Video, Découvertes des Stations du métro de Mouscou (Russia Moscow metro) T

he video takes you on a virtual tour of the Moscow metro. The narrator speaks French, but you can mute him and still enjoy the image. 

All the pictures are part of the public domain and have been uploaded from

The Haussmann renovation of Paris

La Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen of 1789 is a demine text that emerged from the French Revolution. It details an ensemble of the fundamental rights of citizens and the conditions of how these rights ae applied. Ironically, article 17 of the declaration legitimized the movement of expropriation of the inner city by the Haussmann renovation of Paris.
« La propriété est un droit inviolable et sacré. Nul ne peut en être privé sans une juste et préalable indemnité .» Article 17 [1]


For many at the time it may appear logical to argue that removal of population was a normal casualty of modernization and that modernization is a natural process of society. Prior to the Haussmann renovations, many recognize that Paris needed major changes. The citizens of Paris lived in crowded and unhealthy medieval Faubourgs. The roads were narrow and filthy. There was a lack of sewage infrastructures, garbage elimination and potable water proved to be the perfect breeding grounds to epidemics. Haussmann’s plan was to address all these issue as well as to give the city of Paris a modern and esthetic re-vamp.

Many viewed the Hausmmann renovation style contributes to the beauty of the Capital. The architecture of the buildings, their uniformity and the straight line, grid like aspect of the city woulds charm Parisians and visitors and make a modern and attractive city.


This opinion was not necessarily shared by Haussmann contemporaries who, denunciated the monotony of the architecture. The corruption in the financing of the work also cast a shadow on the Haussmann plans. The Second Empire and Haussmann critique, Jules Ferry, produce a series of successful pamphlets accusing the prefet Haussmann to have overspent the budget for the renovations and left the city of Paris indebted. The author cleverly named his pamphlet “ Les comptes fantastique D’Haussmann” a twisted salute to Offenbach’s opera “Contes Fantastiques d’Hoffmann” the story of a man with a fundamental love for Art who gives appearance of reality to mythical creatures.



Les fabuleux contes d’Haussmann opera fantastic of Jacques Offenbach that inspired Les comptes fantastiques d’Haussmann a satire by Jules Ferry (1868).

Furthermore, the renovation of Paris skyrocketing prices of the housing in the downtown area, which prior to Hausmann was home to the working class. Those people, unable to pay their rent were forced to exile on the periphery of the city untouched by the renovation. The removals therefore created a social segregation of the classes.


Haussmann is also accused of hiding under social and hygienic preoccupations a repression project more reminiscent of an authoritarian regime.
The Hausmann renovation has had a lasting impact on the Parisian society. It divided public opinion and the consequences and motivations can still be discussed as having a profound influence on contemporary contexts.