The Design of the Built Environment and Social Capital
Case Study of a Coastal Town Facing Rapid Changes
In the last century the design of the built environment has faced considerable
paradigm changes. The functionalist approach to design emerged in architecture
and planning in the nineteenth century (Pérez-Gómez 1983), as these professions
became enamored with the technological products of the Industrial Revolution.
Functionality and universality of solutions were the premises of the
Modernist movement, which proposed the creation of a new world for a "new
technological man." Modernism prevailed for half a century, reaching its peak
during the reconstruction period following World War II. In the postwar era,
the first signs emerged that the new technological man did not, in practice, fit
well in the new built environment based upon "universal" design principles.
In the 1960s, neighborhood activism and social movements emerged "in a
struggle to preserve and enhance places that mattered" (Ley 1989: 53). In academia,
an interdisciplinary approach also emerged as a way to make sense of a
world that did not fit into the Modernist framework. In this way, and to counter
the functionalist approach, phenomenological, anthropological, and sociological
approaches came to be applied to design practices. These disciplines began to
influence post-Modern design and its attendant concerns with place and with
the alienation of people from their surrounding environment as a result of industrialization,
urbanization, and the machine aesthetic of Modernism (Ley 1989).