Problems and Questions to Consider:

  1. Where do you want to travel to? and why? And when you get there, what to you want to see and do? How similar are cities actually? If I give you an address to be at on Tuesday evening anywhere in the world, could you get there on your own? In Europe? in Central Africa? in Central Asia? Use of icons, conventions, standarization.
  2. Describe the form of the town you grew up in. Grids and form. Divisions of public and private space ("zoning"), administrative, commercial and retail; entertainment, industrial, religious, educational; residential, private; parks, plots and open spaces; streets, malls, throughways; water and food? Sewers? Waste removal? How do you account for the similarities?
  3. What does the town do to encourage a sense of identity? to promote the well being of its citizens? What kinds of public buildings? What makes your heart beat faster? your hair stand on end? Do you think back with a fond affection on the place you grew up in? If so why, or why not?
    1. How important are the aesthetics (architectural forms) of urban structures?Does the physical appearance of a community promote a common identity? and urban prospertity?
    2. Consider the role of religion and ritual?
  4. How do we preserve memory? How do we educate and enculturate our younger generations? How do we learn what is right? and what to be avoided?
  5. How do we create civic virtue? avoid corruption? What does it mean to speak of 'shared values'? How to make a sacrifice? (cf. Bogie / Rick in Casablanca or Elizabeth Bennet of P&P). Are these important values?
    1. If everyone acted out of passion and desire what would happen? But how do we control those tendencies?
    2. Consider the role of literature, cinema in evoking a common culture. What is then the role of high culture? Why is it important for the 'good' to succeed? and for the 'bad' to be punished?
  6. How does urban architecture reflect our values?
    1. What are the fundamental values and how does urban architecture reflect those values? How might that be different in a monarchy or totalitarian state? What kind of buildings dominate the landscape of each?
    2. How does urban design annouce our values? To what extent are the ideas of "democracy" or "equality", "republic" built into our urban and civic structure?
  7. Is it important for cities to encourage art and culture, science and technology? And if so, how do cities do it? What kind of intellectual framework is necessary? what kind of fiscal framework?
  8. How necessary is "security"? security of person? or property? What can / should communities do to ensure that there is security? What are the constrainsts? If security of person and property are not available, what happens?
  9. What do cities need? What do they give in exchange? services, socialization, intellectual excitment
  10. What is 'high culture'? Should it be supported from public funds? Is there a social value to high culture? Is it superior to popular culture? Why do we support grand opera out of public funds but not a grateful dead concert? To what extent do high culture and science depend on commercial prosperity?