Another study published two years later by the SZKSP, entitled Stanova u zgradama visokog spratnosti, went much farther in its criticism, issuing an out-right condemnation of apartment towers. The towers were objectionable for a variety of reasons. The authors argued that they were an expensive form of housing and that the apartments they contained were of poor quality and did not meet the needs of their inhabitants, echoing oft-heard reproaches regard-ing cost and quality. They also criticized the towers for promoting social in-equality, noting that the distribution of apartments in these buildings favored civil servants over workers, and the wealthy over the poor, raising the issue of social inequality.
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In addition, the authors blamed apartment towers for all kinds of ills, some of which were hardly supported by their survey data. For example, they emphasized the negative effects on people’s psyche of living at great heights, de-spite the fact that the majority of inhabitants responded that they were not affected by dizziness, fear of heights, or the loudness of the wind. These conclusions may have been inspired by a British study from 1967 that correlated mental illness and the height of apartments. 27 Interestingly, the authors of the Yugoslav study claimed that the fear generated by living at such heights promoted neighborly relations between occupants seeking reassurance in the company of strangers. By and large, however, towers were held to be complete failures at promoting a sense of community among their occupants, because people most often socialized with people living on the floor above or below them. This provoked the indignation of the authors: the only thing towers were good at was bringing people together under one roof and then hindering them from ever getting to know each other! Living at great heights was even held responsible for bone and lung diseases in children. The accuracy of the authors’ claims is not important here rather, what is noteworthy is their con-viction that they had to oppose a form of housing that was strongly endorsed by town planners. 28
Other social scientists went further in their criticism, formulating a critique of the very assumptions that underpinned urban planning, accusing Yugoslav planners of resorting to technical solutions to systemic problems. This critique was the basis, for example, of the January 1969 issue of the social studies jour-nal Pregled, which featured articles by an urban planner, a dissident writer, an urban historian, and two sociologists. Unlike the SZKSP’s reports, whose read-ership was limited to relevant specialists, consultative bodies, and policy mak-ers, Pregled was a published journal with a much broader circulation.
Criticizing urban planners from the first half of the twentieth century throughout the world, art historian Milan Prelog took particular aim at cur-rent practitioners in Yugoslavia. Their problem, he claimed, was that they preoccupied themselves with addressing the consequences of the growth of cities, rather than thinking about the source of their growth. 30 Failing to understand that the real transformation had its roots in the changing relationships and values provoked by the rural exodus, they attempted to transform society by applying technical solutions. All in vain: “The numerous ‘Grands Ensembles, ’ ‘new quarters, ’ and ‘mikrorejoni’ that in the last two decades have grown on the periphery of all larger cities represent in large part monumental indict-ments of the powerlessness of planned urban growth just as settlements made of improvised buildings and new slums (in which enormous numbers of the world’s newly ‘urbanized’ population live) represent indictments of un-controlled processes of urbanization and witnesses to the anarchic character of contemporary technical civilizations. ?31
This “pathological” urban growth was not merely a burden to the city’s infrastructure; it also destroyed the traditional values of urban life without replacing them with new ones. Prelog did not mention what these values might.
Prelog implied that urban planners had an oversimplified understanding of society. Growing out of man’s desire to oppose basic, uncontrolled processes with rational planning, urban planning theory has, to the contrary, for a long time been bound by its scope, which limits the effectiveness of their plans as predictive tools. ?32 In other words, town planners failed because they took urbanization to be an operation that they performed on cities, rather than the outcome of broader sociological processes. The solution was not to find new, better designs for urban settlements. Planners could never hope to gain control of change inside cities unless they concerned themselves with the bigger picture. In Prelog’s view, spatial planning had to take place on a much broader geographical scale, starting at the regional level, and focus on limiting the rural exodus to the cities. In the rest of his article, he argued that a truly self-managed society could only be realized through decentralization of the population and, therefore, of economic activities in other words, by encour-aging the growth of rural settlements and towns.