Urban: The What and Why Of It
I get asked fairly often what types of projects I am interested in executing with House Cosmopolitan, and to be honest there is only one critical requirement—the project must be urban.
But what does urban mean?
Simply by definition, urban means “of or relating to the city.” In my mind, that definition expands to include towns of all shapes and sizes and really any context where there is community and the ability to get around easily without a car.
Why is a carless option so critical to your definition of urban?
Whether you are walking, biking, or scooting you are directly exposed to your elements and you must be actively engaged both in watching where you are going as well as in watching where others are headed as well. In all methods of mass transit, you are a passenger that is able to take in your surroundings and freely engage with other people while you are on your way. In all cases, there is a need to both navigate between individuals as well as a need for a bit of beauty and entertainment in what you are looking at while you are on your way. Lastly, cars are not people. We design for people.
Where does architecture fit in all of this?
Architecture is the stage where urban life happens. House Cosmopolitan is built on the belief that cities are the future of sustainable development and that in order to ensure that future is one that takes into account the needs of all citizens and truly creates spaces that are inclusive and engaging, HC needs to be leading the way in what those places look like. The house aims to reflect its context and, when not possible, bring to the table the individuals necessary to ensure the design is respectful of its context and truly celebrates those who will use it.
But why urban over any other type of context?
Climate change is a real existential threat to our future. While there is concern on one level for the further urbanization of land around the world, there are means and methods by which people can live closer together while still maintaining a high level of comfort and privacy. Furthermore, by providing these spaces in a way that allows for citizens to have everything they need within a short distance, we move away from a need for the suburban model and a reduction in the rural model (outside of farming, of course.)
So what does urban look like?
Urban looks like towers in a dense downtown with boutiques and fancy restaurants strewn about a long pedestrian promenade next to major bus lines.
Urban looks likes districts by the water, with six and seven story apartments that have small markets on the ground floor along with some local offices and patio seating as far as the eye can see.
Urban is a quiet, local street where some old, large homes share their yards with townhomes and fourplexes. Where the sidewalks are wide enough for strollers to go by side to side and the cars that are there go by slowly enough the local kids feel safe to play ball in the middle of the street.