This is the first of a series on streets. Each week I will introduce one author and one quote, to continue the discussion on streets as the link, bound and connection between buildings and the urban landscape.
I will start with Tony Vidler's last collection of essays.
"To confine architecture to the role of designing a single building in a context that is largely defined by the interplay of economic development and urban policy leaves the question of the form of the public realm unanswered. In this period of global urbanization, the single building has become increasingly isolated as an icon of progress rising amid a sea of urban blight, a designer accessory masking the rampant spoliaton of traditional urban fabric and the unsustainable expansion of urban areas."
Vidler, Anthony, The Scenes of the Street and Other Essays, The Monacelli Press, New York, 2011, p6
Vidler is one of the most insightful scholars in the field of architecture and urbanism. His last collection of essays might not be an overarching analysis of streets in history, as the title may suggest, but it gives a thorough and deep view on certain moments of city streets in history. Paris is the protagonist, from 19th century urban development, through Tony Garnier and Le Corbusier to Guy Debord's psychogeographies. However, the collection does cover other gems like urban photography, museums, libraries and the obelisk.
Vidler's style is impecable and his observations shed light on the main driver of the book: the tight relationship between city planning, urban design, urbanism and architecture. This includes the distiction between all of these concepts. The focus of the book may be on certain times and spaces in history, but the ideas behind it are as current and useful for understanding urban spaces as they can ever be.
This approach should help us understand the need to analyse architecture not as buildings within a context, but urbanism and architecture as integral parts of a whole.