A Time in the South: Charleston and Williamsburg

We have recently returned from a time in Charleston, SC and Williamsburg, VA. I wanted to offer a few thoughts about our travels and a few reactions to what we observed. I will begin in Charleston. Encountering any urban region in our time nearly always involves cars. This seems obvious: I note this as an … Continue reading A Time in the South: Charleston and Williamsburg

Present City, Future City: India

In the Old City, Ahmedabad. In February and March we spent a month visiting seven cities across India, from south to north, from west to east. Our time there was completely exceptional: invaluable, surprising, educational, revealing, depressing, infuriating, eye-opening and more. I continue to reflect on those days, and it has taken me until now … Continue reading Present City, Future City: India

White City: Local Lives and a Century of Progress

A procession begins in White City, in the summer of 1909. We speed through the spaces of our lives as quickly as we can - rushing through the city, rushing to the mall, rushing 20 or 30 miles without blinking an eye. We have to, after all - we have spread out all over the … Continue reading White City: Local Lives and a Century of Progress

American Urbanism: Shovel-ready

 Image from flickr. "Once we accept that our cities will not be like the cities of the past, it will become possible to see what they might become." Witold Rybczynski, City Life. When he wrote those words in 1995, Rybczynski was actually "glimpsing the urban future," and seeing it as a low-density and low-rise city, amorphous and … Continue reading American Urbanism: Shovel-ready

Vernacular Urbanism, Part IV: Density and Use

Lisbon, Cadiz, Casablanca - some of our recent destinations. In each of these cities there is at least one district, or urban quarter, that is dense, rich, bustling with activity, alive, completely walkable, and as ever, fragile.  Each faces pressure from gentrification, adjacent development, cars. (Only the Old Medina is so dense that cars are excluded, … Continue reading Vernacular Urbanism, Part IV: Density and Use

Vernacular Urbanism, Part III

  A slum in Manila. "All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim."  Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins. I continue to search for a vernacular urbanism for the next city. After some reflection, I have concluded that what I am looking for is an urbanism that is local … Continue reading Vernacular Urbanism, Part III

Vernacular Urbanism and the Next City, Continued

  The Algonquin town of Pomeioc. Watercolor by Captain John White, 1585. "...comprising the dwellings and all other buildings of the people. Related to their environmental contexts and available resources they are customarily owner- or community-built, utilizing traditional technologies. All forms of vernacular architecture are built to meet specific needs, accommodating the values, economies and … Continue reading Vernacular Urbanism and the Next City, Continued

Vernacular Urbanism and the Next City

"The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand." Italo Calvino Shibam, Yemen, photo by  Jialiang Gao: an ancient pattern of dense, high-rise desert urbanism. What should the next city look like, and how should we inhabit the future? I have been puzzling over these questions for quite a long … Continue reading Vernacular Urbanism and the Next City