When you travel you get to see a lot of interesting architecture in various cities, from works of stone or steel or urban design. Some cities plan and study how they will built and develop, often taking specific steps to ensure uniformity and beauty. However most cities go about in a haphazard way with no thought to the future or looks. City Hall and Developers work hand in hand, the city wants tax revenues, developers profits, so a design, cookie cutter is presented to the City and is approved. Ottawa is notorious for this type of development by accident. It sometimes has to be dressed up with pseudo fancy words and notions which do not hold up to scrutiny but that really does not matter. Developers will say that this is what people want, they will mention green space and throw in the word ”vibrant” or ”cutting-edge” these words are very popular in Canadian Cities, though the final result is mediocre at best and will not age well but that does not matter since the developers and the City Officials have moved on. A good example of this is the planned Windmill project, a forest of condos for the very rich over a national historic site at the Chaudiere Falls in the centre of Ottawa. The promised green park will occupy about 5% of the area. It will be a mostly gated community and difficult to access.
I often like to stroll in a City I am visiting or lived in and admire simply the architecture, just walk the street and look at the buildings, do they have an history, do they belong to a period in architecture, who was the owner, why was it built. Same thing for streets what did they connect to. Monuments are also interesting, their history is not always known, too old and forgotten. A park is also a great place to explore, why was it built and what can you find in terms of elements urban planning. Many parks in European Cities or in Latin America were built to allow people to escape their small apartments and simply walk or sit.
In North America, with the wide expanses of land and homes with big gardens, City parks were not a priority or if we design one nowadays it has to be for kids, why would adults want to sit in a park.
Here are some great buildings, with character and architectural features telling a story.
Street view in Old Quebec City c.18th century
Berlin Mitte (central) architecture c.1900, buildings that survived the bombing of the Second World War and were restored.
So many beautiful streets and buildings in Berlin, restoration and reconstruction has been steady since 1991.
But other Cities like Rome also have architecture on a human scale.
Rome by the Forum of Trajan with its Pines
From this rocky hill where Pericles convinced the Athenians to built the Acropolis, by paying extra taxes, he told them it was their sacred duty as Citizens of a democratic State.
You do not have to go to a museum to see beautiful things just look around you.
Tiergarten, Berlin an immense garden, once a private forest for the King of Prussia in the heart of the Capital.
New statues of bathers boy and girls on the river Spree behind the Lutheran Cathedral, Berlin