Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Small community with a belly button: Centre, centro, place, square, plaza

I lived in Paris for a short time.

I've always imagined that Paris must be a big big city with historic sites, boutiques, restaurants, apartments, River Seine, etc, etc.....

But it wasn't. I was very surprised and pleased to find that it was a very walkable city. Well, it's not really small, but considering the rich content that Paris boasts, it's remarkably small!

Paris hasn't been changed much since medieval era. It started to flourish from Ile de la Cite (and the Notre Dame) on the Seine and it is still the center of Paris. It is like a belly button of the city.

Paris has smaller belly buttons too; "place". Place de la Concorde, Place de la Bastille..... Those are the hubs of the streets that form radial system. Small places are connected each other with radial streets like a spider web and it was really nice to stroll around from Place to Place. I enjoyed walking following different scenes; fashion, art, cafe and bistros, marches, old, nice apartments and hotels, historic sites, different ethnic communities.....

Italy has Centro and Plaza. England has center and square. Same idea. Old cities developed centering some important buildings such as churchs and gradually expanded their radius. It's amazing to see the similarity; old cities with belly buttons and small hubs that connect them each other, forming a nice spider-web like circle.

All those cities were developed well before fossil fuel became available. In other words, those cities are inherently designed low-carbon and efficient.

There must be so many ideas and tips to design low-carbon community.

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