An excerpt from my journal during my first viist to Amsterdam last month:
Thus far, Amsterdam reminds me most of Kyoto, perhaps due to the jumble of condensed, narrow streets and thin reflective canals all walled in by tall, skinny tower-like buildings. When in Japan they were wood- they are stone here. Already, a sophisticated relationship to water is clear in the waterfront and canals and their many drawbridges.
This radial city is made up of a unique interwoven series of streets, alleys, and canals that intersect one another in a sort of sunrise pattern like grain. The water’s presence even down a tiny lane is surprising and lends a certain rhythm to traversing the town. Although, it is undoubtedly best to navigate these conditions by taking part in the swarm of bicyclists that are ubiquitous here.
The alleys are full of everything you’d expect them to be full of in Amsterdam – bars, coffee shops, and of course a very unique selection of storefronts in the red light district. It is interesting to think about Amsterdam without the primary streets – if the radial main thoroughfares were compressed down to three meters like most alleys, the relationship of the alley ways complete with bicycle lane down the middle, and the numerous canals would create a more formalized Venetian quality. I will post next about my experiences travelling through Italy for the first time last month. I am contemplating packaging my travel journal together and publishing it as an addendum to TIght Urbanism in the coming year, as I found many interesting things in the realm of architecture and the city.
A day spent in the alleys and canal edges of Gion, the old entertainment district of Kyoto, where retail has compacted the storefront into a three foot deep experience that typically would require twelve in the west. Shades, screening, gardens, drainage, and displays are integrated in a tight unison. The thickness of the wall is the journey from the realm of the city to the realm of the merchant.
Beginning this Tuesday, November 9th, I will embark on my last fellowship trip to Japan. I will be visiting Kyoto first, then Tokyo via Osaka and the Ise shrine. My journey will last two weeks, please find my itineraries below and email me with any additional places you think I should see. Stay tuned for what should be the greatest alley adventure yet!
Also, the application deadline for the upcoming 2011 emerging professional travelling fellowship is December 15. Feel free to contact me regarding the application or anything else.