Main | Prompt 2: The Necessity for Ruins »

Prompt 1: A Setting for Flows

A city is basically, above all else, a setting for flows. All the flows in the city are flows of people, but abstracted to different levels: literal flows of people, on the streets or in the buildings (or in the skyways, in our particular case); flows of people in cars on the roads and highways; flows of information, which are really flows of people's minds, being interconnected; flows of resources which support the human flows (electricity, water, sewage, shipping). The relevant part of all this is that people move in flows — not necessarily all the same way, but not all different ways either. People follow statistical patterns, and a good city — and a good building — should be reactive to these patterns of movement.

A map of the internet

A relevant concept here is Michel de Certeau's concept of Space and Place, which I've recently been exposed to in another class. He says that a space is simply a physical setting for people's movements; it is the actions and movements of the people who use this physical space that transform it into a Place, and thereby defining it. Just as Andrew Goldsworthy reacts to the flows he perceives in nature in the creation of his ephemeral art pieces, architecture is inescapably defined by the use of its occupants, so it needs to be reactive to this.All too often architecture is designed without keeping this in mind — architecture simply cannot force people to use it in whatever way it sees fit. People will define a space however it is useful for them, and if it prevents this necessary definition they will revolt against it. Ignoring the flows of people in architecture is no different than the environmental harm we do when ignoring nature's natural flows.