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The Flow of the City

People live, work and travel to the city. Because of this, the city brings nature, people, and architectural structures together in one area. Architects must use these three elements together to compliment one another and to create an interesting and welcoming place.


From looking at the world around us, it is apparent that the flow of water has shaped the earth. Rivers carved the walls of the Grand Canyon and glaciers etched the various mountain ranges across the United States.

Similarly, the flow of people has carved or shaped the city. Any major city in the United States has a constant flow of traffic through its streets and people on its sidewalks. To an outsider, this flow is consistent with the current of a river. Not only does this flow move quickly, it travels in a fluid manner. It is important for architects to notice this flow of people and incorporate it into the infrastructure of the city. A good example of this is on the University of Minnesota Campus. The flow of traffic down Washington Avenue is complimented by the flow of people throughout the mall area. As an architect, one should also understand the flow of the city and create structures that compliment its surroundings. To disrupt this flow would create confusion within the population and limit the accessibility of the city. An example of this disruption was in a reading in our course packet. It described the challenge of trying to navigate through a confusing public transport system. Confusion often disrupts the flow of the city and displaces a good portion of the population. Architecture, as a whole, is created to include people. A bad design can do just the opposite.
The movie Rivers and Tides portrays an accurate representation of the flow of nature. Andy Goldsworthy understands the flow of nature and creates art that compliments it. During a scene in the movie, Andy goes through the difficulty of making a cone structure on the beach out of rocks. Although many of his attempts fail, he becomes more confident in his movements. Each try gives him a new understanding of the rocks and the structure he is attempting to create. This is a good lesson to take from Andy. Although structures and ideas may fail at first, each attempt gives us a better understanding of the materials we are using and gives us the confidence and hope we need to succeed.


Similarly, Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous architect in the early twentieth century, understood the concept of incorporating nature, people and structures together. He used the flow of these elements to create interesting architecture that is still popular today.