While en route from Shanghai 上海 to Brussels, the plane made a stop-over in Moscow. It was election Sunday in Russia’s capital, but on the runway, in the tax-free shops and airport lounges, it was business as usual. Or so, it looked like. Societies are hard to read while being on a stop-over, politics hardly matter when you’re in transit.
While above the earth and far away from it, a world hidden in darkness, and beneath clouds, it was considered a good idea to start reading Tarzans in the Media Forest & Other Essays by Toyo Ito [AA Publications, 2011], an interesting set of essays spanning 40 years of reflections by the Japanese architect. In his text ‘What is the Reality of Architecture in a Futuristic City?‘ , Toyo Ito talks eloquently about his first impression of visiting a new place. It is a great read, the intro featured below, but surprising to MovingCities, as we believe in aerophotography and the runway as the first and last, and most stimulating route to a city. Toyo Ito’s words:
When visiting a new place, my impression of the city is mostly gained during the process of traveling from the airport to the town centre. That is how stimulating this route can be. The various characteristics and expressions of any city will appear, enveloping and devouring visitors. Sometimes we are met by smiling geniality, and other times we are confronted by a brutal wall blocking our way. Alternatively, we plunge into the city’s embrace as if violently sucked up by an enormous vacuum cleaner. Though we cannot predict the kinds of people we will meet and the kinds of events we will encounter, the degree of excitement provided by the city is mostly decided at that moment.
There a lot of paraphrasing we would love to do to the above – my impression of the city is mostly gained during the process of traveling to and from the airport to the sky and eventually any city will disappear, distract and forget its visitors – but the below, from Moscow’s large housing blocks and snow-white suburbia to Belgium’s maliciously benign spatial disorganization shows our stance on visiting cities.
Pictures by movingcities.org