City square

Portfolio created: 2006

City is defined, according to Pausanias, as a place that hosts a theater, a gymnasium and most importantly public space, a place for all. City is the organized form of society where people are educated, entertained and meet one another, a meeting place so to speak where one can communicate, get into an argument, inspire and get inspired by others, a place, ultimately, that is common ground to all and highly personal for each and every one of us.

But what is, nowadays, the notion of city for us? Let’s consider once again, what is it that makes us live our lives in one, or what makes us want to run away from it as fast as we can. How does the habitat we have all collectively created look like and why aren’t we so certain whether we like it or not?

During the 20th century people of all over the country gathered in urban centers thus creating areas of great density. People were forced to comute to work, to travel greater distances for longer periods of time in order to be educated or find recreation of their liking. As a result, accumulated fatigue as well as frustration resulted to people getting angrier by the minute and little-by-little blame was dumped on the urban environment.

For quite some time now, the first thing one hears in a debate on the Greek city is condemnation, while the proposed solution is always to flee, to save oneself by moving away from the others to find peace, often in a deserted part of land that nobody can be reached.

If the only kind of landscape that we think has value is one where there is no human presence,” writes John Brinckerhoff Jackson, “then we place ourselves away from nature, exiling us, paradoxically, from our own world.”

The writer also shares the above view. Contemporary man will never find a convincing answer away from the environment that shaped him, the city. It was the city that formed him the very same time that he himself formed the city. We walk alone in a public place and yet at the same time we all stand together next to each other. We choose to hang out in places that we are likely to meet people with whom we are connected, and we all seek the same goal: a meeting place to gather and interact. Whatever our personal views, the city and its public space, empty or full of people remains our common ground, literally as well as figuratively speaking.