Social Attitudes Reflected in the Built Environment
bmh 01 - 10 - 2010

Now in Granada, we've observed various city sizes and organizational structures. While comparing the built environment to that of our hometown projects, it is also vital to evaluate the cultural, social, and political context of the original infrastructure as well as new growth.

In the United States, the prosperity and speed of the industrial revolution led to a polarization in individuality. If Americans spent their commitment to the whole in World War II, they followed with a glutenous appetite for privatization and independence. As a result, the individual was led to believe that one man was sufficient in himself; thus, creating a conflict with family and community today. This dispersal is seen in the built environment in the form of urban sprawl, highways, and depleting green space. Therefore, our suburban landscape reflects the attitude of the founding generation.

Spain on the other hand retains its city centers with continued interests. A culture built on the family unit, the density and familiarity of the urban block, plaza, and park provide an environment that reflects the public values of the past.

Today, however, these sets of values are being challenged. Despite the ill effects of America's sprawl, Spain seems to be infected with a similar form of individualism translating into materialism. While the city centers of previous generations are in tact, train rides reveal growing suburbs and privatized transportation. Our tour guide in Seville also reflected on this transformation of values. According to our guide, her generation grew up with a focus on love, health, and money; today, she feels the reverse is true: money, health, love. This trend already causes issues in marrying age and population size, but if the trend continues the built environment will change to reflect the new hierarchy. If this is indeed true, what correlation does Spain share with the United States, and how will the environment change over the years to reflect such change?

* Top Image: Plaza and urban patterning view from the tower in the Cathedral of Seville.
* Bottom Image: Town development patterning

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