All day long our neighbourhood is filled with the sounds of construction: drilling, hammering, the rumble of heavy trucks. Looking out from our balcony, we can see the closest spot from which these day-long rumblings come:
The noise seems to never stop and I often long for quiet. The spot in the photograph, though, is an example of what is happening in other streets near where I live; as well as on the main roads. The constant construction and zeal for creating condos is changing the skyline that I see everyday.
The buildings that are going up now are higher than the existing ones. And I know that in the next few years, this view of the horizon will change even more.
When I look out of my window today, the view I see is white and grey: the buildings are surrounded by snow and ice. The summertime view, however, shows more of a contrast: the natural green is shown up against the grey and brown of concrete and brick.
I do prefer views that are more natural but, as I look at this one, I know I prefer it to the views seen in the city centre – views in which all is concrete, tar, brick and glass.
The arms of the city where I live are spreading outward, its fingers filling green spaces and taking over smaller buildings. Skyscrapers are slowly reaching skyward in the neighbourhood I live in, as can be testified by the signs announcing the erection of condos in our street and beyond.
As city planners work on the plans for our streets and accommodation, they change the landscape of our environment. We look out of our windows and see grey and glass buildings reaching towards the sky, blocking out the sun and the view a of blue sky. As we look out from our balcony, not much of nature’s green bounty is seen. Instead we see the hint of other people’s lives that they leave outside on their balconies that others can see.
The urban design I live with everyday is not a beautiful sight; but it is a sight that I have had to grow accustomed to.
What urban design do you experience everyday? The design of the city, or the one of the suburbs?
Growing up in the suburbs, I never thought that I would one day live in the city. I grew up with five huge gum trees in the back yard and with plenty of green grass on which to play. I was used to empty streets during the day; and walking past houses set in large gardens on my way to school. The surroundings were calm and quiet: birds chirped in the trees, and dogs barked at the odd passer-by. Thinking back to my childhood, I know I grew up in an environment coloured by nature’s paintbrush; a place that offered tranquillity and serenity if you wished for it.
Now I live in a city surrounded by tall, grey buildings. Patches of grass can be seen; but they are slowly being replaced by the modern skyscrapers that are built to home the increased number of residents in this city. I experience the noise, the crowded sidewalks the long queues, the brusque residents, and the knowledge that I can never truly know the sensation of solitude when I am surrounded by humanity.
Living in the city has its pros and cons. Many amenities are within walking distance: the hospital, the supermarkets, the library, even the post office. Owning a car is not a necessity as the public transport has frequent buses and trains available to take you to your destination. Theatres, art galleries and museums are within easy reach; as are evenings of dining out after a ballet or listening to an opera.
Spots of tranquillity can be found in the city I inhabit. I cannot find it, though, in my own back yard; or walking down the street in which I live. It is for this reason we have created a space of tranquillity in our own home: a place where we can be at peace; a place which we hope may not be intruded upon by our neighbours.
What is your experience of living in the city?
(This blog post was inspired by Jake and his stunning graphics. The prompt for his weekly challenge this week is City.)
To me “urban” signifies a group of tall buildings huddled together. Within these buildings people work, live and play. Seeing the city from the outside, though, can be impressive – especially when you approach it from the water. After a visit to the Toronto Island, we see the unique skyline of the city of Toronto.
From this distance we can see the places that we go to often over the weekends: the Harbourfront and the district we often visit.
A city is always expanding, and Toronto is no different as the cranes in the distance testify. What a beautiful view from the residents must have from their shoreline apartments.
Away from the concrete buildings that seem to be rising higher and higher. Away from the smog-filled mornings and the dense pedestrian traffic. Away from the continual sounds of human movement and activity. Away from a life that requires you to be on the go the whole time.
When I think of a village, it seems almost an utopia. I imagine a small community that embraces what community is meant to be: helping out neighbours in need, stopping in the street to listen and speak to someone with all one’s attention, looking out for one another. I think of people who belong; people who are not adrift in a sea of humanity.
When passing through a village, I notice as well how much closer to nature they are. I see trees, and open land around them. I breathe in air that smells fresher than what I breathe in when in the city. I can imagine walking in this clear air and not needing to pay attention to hasty drivers bent on reaching their own destination. I can hear, too, the sounds of the countryside: the silence, the rustling trees, the song of birds.
The downside of a village would be the distance to places like hospitals, libraries, and supermarkets. One would hope that there would be a hospital nearby if I needed one. Libraries? A monthly visit to the nearest library would solve that problem – and then I would borrow as many books as I could! And the supermarket? A village ought to have its local stores. Part of the village experience would be to walk to these local businesses and spent the time shopping and chatting with others.
There are those born in villages who yearn for the sounds and lights of the city. As a resident of the city, I yearn for the quiet and peace of a village. Who knows, maybe one day I may move nearer towards my utopia of village-living.