This essay is a virtual collaboration with Ana Maria Manzo, a Valencia, Venezuela architect who frequently writes in English and Spanish at the place of dreams and el lugar de los sueños, respectively. Although we have not met, we were compelled — by shared and determined optimism during a time of upheaval in certain world regions — to combine perspectives on how best to read urban evolution.
The evolution of place is far from a linear process. Rather, it is an interactive story which features the blending of many dimensions.
Time, of course, creates new and old approaches to the look and feel of habitation, workplace, and the transportation routes between. The elements of water and land interface and interact, sometimes together, with the built environment. Climate drives seasons and forms of building, access and the manipulation of light. And cultural approaches to ownership and stewardship modify these responses to climate, and create alternative forms of building on the ground.
Today, we are driven by a new sustainability ethic, necessarily systemic in scope. Carbon-neutrality is a commonly stated goal, and location efficiency, clean energy and the return of neighborhood are the watchwords of change. Formulas, metrics, and new regulatory systems attempt results, and show the quest to measure how close we are to achieving ideal forms of location and development.
But as both of us have written in different languages, context is key, and adaptation to a multi-environmental sense of place, associated imagery and sensation is an essential element of building design, urban development and innovation going forward.