pUBLIC SPACES COMPARISON
SUBMITTED BY ddf DATE 01 - 09 - 2010
Public spaces are not maintained the same way in Europe as they are in the United States. In Europe, if sidewalks are damaged, they are usually left that way. If stairs are corroded, they are not repaired until absolutely necessary. This change from Europe to the United States could have to do with the recent barrage of law suits about anything in the U.S. or it could be strictly cultural. My guess is that it’s a little of each.
The towns and buildings of the Spanish cities we have visited tell a story with their unique designs and history. In the United States, newer is typically considered better. While the European’s appreciate the new as well, they cherish the old. This story starts to become its own narrative of the history of the building. As shown in the bottom image at the Alhombra, not restoring buildings to their original state often adds character. In the top image, the Roman built Cordoba bridge survives from centuries ago with the walk being recently been refinished. Without this preservationist attitude of the Europeans, many of these ancient examples of architecture and landscape architecture might not exist.
It is clear from several examples that indigenous and historical societal principles still play a role in contemporary cultures in both the design and social realms. It is obvious that the feel and culture of the city is more important than each individual business, quite the opposite of the business model for the United States. Driving down McGalliard in Muncie, for example, each business is competing with every other business in a competition to see who can have the most eye catching design. In the cities we have visited so far in the World Tour (Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada) the feeling of the streets is clearly more important than drawing the attention to each business. The old facades of the buildings are rarely redone when businesses open. Whether this is not allowed by codes, or if it is just expected, it is clear that the historical principals of the society still influence modern design cultures.