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Needham Street
by Seth Harry  and Associates Inc., Architects and Planners

The Traditional City


 The City of Luxembourg
(Photo by Lucien Steil)

The traditional city is the excellent, complex and popular materialization of civility and conviviality in the most genial invention of mankind: Civitas....It is the perfect synthesis between territory, culture and human communities. It is a stable and stimulating 'Patria' for individuals and families, for locals and visitors, residents and hosts, for industry, business, crafts, arts, etc., and the most supportive setting for men's most profound and enlighted investigations and productions in science, technology, performing arts, education and artistical and intellectual creations. It remains the best possible human environment for communication, interaction and for social, cultural, intellectual and commercial creativity and invention! 


Old Postcard View of Luxembourg
(Photo from Joel Crawford's Archives)

"civitas nihil aliud est quam hominum multitudo societatis vinculo adunata."


Innsbruck, Maria Theresienstrasse
(Photo from Joel Crawford's Archives)

"The town is a community of men joined together by social bonds."

Augustinus, "Civitas Dei", quoted by Erwin Gutkind:
"Urban Development in Southern Europe: Italy and Greece"


Nurnberg before the Second World War
(Photo from Joel Crawford's Archives)

The traditional city has always remained a compelling artifact for imagination, for reflection, for poetical inspiration and for veneration.....How many vedutas, paintings and engravings, photographies, descriptions, poems and popular songs have been left to us which do but enthousiastically celebrate the virtues, the beauty, the excellence, the uniqueness, the authenticity and the liveliness of the popular traditional city!
Even smaller cities and towns, --and now even New Urban Towns and Neighbourhoods--, have impressive collections of visual and written records of their epic memory, their origins in some mythological past or in an almost as mythological 'Charrette'.
How much all of them cherish their urban layout, their monuments and squares, their streets, their skylines and panoramic views, and also of course their citizens  and outstanding and heroic figures through a history of permanence and change, continuity and transformation within a living, vital and complex urban identity...   


Assisi, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele
(Photo from Joel Crawford's Archives)

A Work of Centuries 


Neighbourhood in Siena
(Photo by Lucien Steil)

"For in whatever way a town has developed de facto as a work of the centuries, it was viewed at every moment as a towering edifice conceived and built in a spirit of harmony whose systematic composition expressed a high and ideal vision. Such a vision --it was never the same-- determined successively the building activities of the bishops, the free communes, the later tyrants and the princes....We know this ideal picture of the civitas from literature. The Latin Middle Ages have given much thought to the essential nature of a town. One was convinced that it should provide the framework and the stage for a life pleasing to God and ordered significantly." 
Wolfgang Braunfels
"Mittelalterliche Stadtbaukunst in der Toskana"


Old View of Siena
(Photo from Joel Crawford's Archives)

"For the polis was for the Greeks - as the 'res publica' was for the Romans - primarily a safeguard against the futility and transcience of individual life, namely the space which protects against everything that is merely transitory and keeps in reserve what is relatively lasting: it was intended almost to grant mortal men eternal life."
Hannah Arendt
"Vita Activa"  

The Architect and the City 


New Town "Altes Rad", Potsdam-Eiche, Germany (1991-1992)
by Rob Krier and Christoph Kohl

"The political art of citizens establishes the program or the brief for the building while the special art of the architect translates that formulation into a material embodiment of the type of building it is. So far the architect has participated primarily as a citizen where he has a special expertise concerning the art of building but where that special expertise gave his voice no greater authority than that enjoyed by others. Now that actual building is to occur, his participation shifts in emphasis but not in intent because the art of the architect is an art of citizenship, not an escape from it."
Carroll William Westfall
"Architectural Principles in the Age of Historicism"


Citra Niaga Urban Development, Samarinda, Indonesia (1989)
Aerial View of Street Hawkers Stalls and Shophouses
by Antonio Ismael, Architect
PT Triaco and PT Grivantara, Architects
(Photo by Gary Otte)
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Cities and Architects