In an article published in World Finance on urbanization 2.0, Dan Lewis, a Director of the Economic Research Council, states that Today’s municipal planners dream wistfully of Timgad, a perfectly symmetrical, self-contained grid-laid Roman town in Algeria built in 100 AD. Instead they have given us the likes of Milton Keynes in the UK.
The statement above shows his dissatisfaction with modern town planning which has given the world cities without a soul. However, if this author were to visit Algeria, he would lament the state of our town and cities (and thank god for Milton Keynes), he would realize that Timgad, which appears to be an inspiration for town planners around the world, has not enthused our architects to produce anything remotely as decent.
If he were to drive on the East-West highway, he would find himself alternating between beautiful dreams and nightmares. One moment he could imagine himself in the best of countries, beautiful landscape as far as the eye can see unraveling herself to the observer, inviting to be seen and enjoyed. Another moment eyesores erected by men, never thinking about creating harmony between nature and buildings, resulting in an esthetic unevenness that would detract him from looking out of the car’s window and push him to look away. He would also notice the inexistence of spaces and structures that lift the spirit. He would certainly question the shocking designs by our architects and their inability to know where a building is not suited.
If he were to take walks around our cities, he would see how some rare decent buildings metamorphosed into ugly ones thanks to the jealous man who thinks that by turning a balcony into a window or even a block of concrete, he would be protecting the honor of his family, by hiding his wife, sisters or daughters from the preying eyes of other men. And if he were to venture outside his hotel room on a rainy day, he would bring heaps of mud back.
If he were to read comments on Algerian newspapers and blogs, he would find people objecting to the creation of beautiful buildings, he would come across articles criticizing any attempts to build decent roads and bridges. He would find people asking for a freeze on projects until a democratic system is established. If he were to talk to people about cleanliness, he would find everyone espousing the idea that cleanliness of homes and streets should be a priority, but he would realize soon after that everyone brilliantly destroys it.
If he were to visit Timgad, he would find a ghost town, revived only for concerts to hypnotize the people.