Carving Urban Space

rocky city

Medieval cities remind me of being inside a canyon whose walls are steep and sharp; an Italian hilltown sometimes reminds me of a place in New Mexico or Arizona.  Its an obvious analogy, but one that bears describing.

If we were to design a medieval city from scratch we could begin by imaging the city-to-be as a slab of rock.  Then we can begin carving it, creating the canyons that lead to open places, whittling the top to form a skyline, shaping the bottom to connect with the land.  This would be a very fun exercise.  But would it result in a real place? Can one individual or team create something of lasting value within the frame of a few years or even one lifetime?  Or is it beyond our reach, and if we love these places, we must consign ourselves to merely being in them, not creating them anew?

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