The Devil is in the Details, Ponta Delgada, Azores
That there should be two tall towers in the town, that large buildings should have arcades that are of a certain height and width, that there should be fountains in certain places, that streets should intersect in certain places, that some buildings of a certain height should be built near other buildings of a certain height, that some sidewalks should have ornamentation, that some spaces should have vegetation, that some streets need to be narrower than others, and some streets need to curve ever so slightly, that some places should be left open…
I could go on and on. I don’t know what it is about colonial cities, especially Spanish and Portuguese ones. Their urban form and imageability just makes so much sense, and while they were clearly planned, so much about them feels unplanned and genuine.
New Urbanism often fails to create this feeling, and honestly I don’t know what can really, because i’m quite sure that if you re-created this exact town but made it all new construction, it would feel tacky.
I suppose genuine authentic places are not nearly as much about the design as about the history of the place.
Which makes me wonder…and I’m going to need help with this:
When these colonial cities and towns were first created, did they lack that elusive authentic feeling that urban designers are so obsessed with capturing?