Monday, October 15, 2007

Cozy refuge

Certainly Venice is beautiful, but the unusual feeling it has, for today's visitor, is that of one big home: it feels like a sprawling ship, or some family's vast and quirky living room. The city has always been a collective refuge ... at least, it's commonly thought that this played some role in its foundation and growth. Consequently, it exudes this sense of group coziness, like a place built to protect and comfort us, binding us together in our escape from the world. Because Venice does this so well, the whole world comes to visit, to take a breath, within this ideal cozy refuge. And it's ok that everyone comes here. Everyone seems to "fit in", because everyone has problems they need to run away from, and everyone needs a special place for their escape.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

People spaces

Venice is the only car-free City left ... there are car-free towns, but any active City on land has been cut up by the automobile. Venice's ocean defenses saved it from a form of transportation whose very infrastructure destroys spaces for people.

This is the most important lesson that Venice offers the modern world ... after it has taught much else. But how many people, wandering through the City, serene in their safety from the auto, realize that it is possible to reshape Cities in the modern world? How many are inspired to take on the destructive orthodoxy of modern planning, development and architecture? How many are spurred to carve public spaces for people that are protected from the auto, spaces whose very existence will help make cars unecessary?