Category Archives: Thoughts

Urbanice

A few weeks ago, I visited Dayton, Nevada for a short family trip to reunite with some relatives. These photographs were taken at my aunt’s front yard.  There I was standing in the middle of the vast open space, enjoying the nice warm weather, and looking over the natural beauty the place has to offer. I spent the majority of my life in an urban environment, so the rural feel of the town was somehow new to me.

As I was relaxing in my aunt’s porch, I can’t help but think about the various ways to utilize the aforementioned open space, which appears to be underused. Maybe they could plant more trees, crops, or other types of vegetation. Perhaps they could build a gazebo, or some form of shelter where visitors could socially interact and relax. Indeed, the opportunities are ‘endless’. But to what extent can we alter nature to accommodate our needs — in a design sense, our design intentions. As architects, we are responsible in designing buildings and spaces which adapt to the environment and promote a better quality of life. More often than not, this is usually achieved, primarily through the use of green design methods.

However, there are instances when we fail to commit to this responsibility because we are too consumed in developing our often ‘biased’ design concepts. Sure, I’m just making assumptions here. But if we look at the level of urbanization in our world today, especially in developing countries, we could easily see how once open spaces have been transformed into a cluster of buildings (usually skyscrapers). We tend to over-design because the options are endless. The natural environment is taken for granted and so-called public places lack access to walkable paths, connection to nature, reliable public transportation, and spaces which promote a sense of community. Urban design is at the core of these issues, and there are various cities around the world which have successfully developed their urban planning to create livable cities. In our modern world, urbanization is the norm, so we should strive to make our future cities more livable and sustainable. We have different preferences in terms of the places we want to live in. As for me, I would always treasure places where I could enjoy nature (even in an urban setting), and interact with the larger community.