Cities are built in layers. A city centre can be a medieval town or a forest of skyscrapers: playing ground for tourists or for businessmen. Moving outward there's a change of scene. Picturesque images give way to a repetition of utility and function. Wealthy but monotonous suburbs and run down slums alike.
Here are endless parking lots and supermalls, brand new industrial parks and defunct ones, graffitied commuter stations and desolate bus stops, beehive-like apartment blocks and forgotten plots. Highways that lead to more shopping centres, prefab villas and Disney castles, garden towns and areas with collapsing factories and broken down sheds.
Somewhere along the line ambition and sadness meet. Construction sites and waste dumps don't look that different, after a while the weeds take over. Building and digging: the point is to fill the spaces in between. Maybe meaning will come with time.
This is the real world, this is where we live. We build and build and then we look around us and notice something peculiar: we don't recognize it anymore. Everybody wants to see their imaginary perfect little world turn steel and stone - and then it disappears. Everywhere, places start to look like anywhere.
A question comes to mind: what do you see when there's no one around? Without the people, maybe we can focus our thoughts. We may be looking at a riddle without a clue, but there should be some intention, some meaning showing through. Something to explain.
BOUWEN / BUILDING Published February 09, 2013
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