I finally got around to creating a rough draft of an idea that has been rolling around in my head for several years. Ever since I moved to Europe I fell in love with an architectural artifact and archetype that is not found anywhere in the U.S.- the city gate. These used to be the thresholds of fortified cities, but as the cities grew and evolved they became absorbed in the urban fabric. The most ovbious examples are found at public squares or in the middle of busy intersections, as large imposing moments. However, many times they were simply built around without monumental status, and now occupy a space in between organized construction.
I like to re-imagine these structures as, not a way to control the flow of entry and exit, but rather a mechanism to connect different parts of a city. By placing the gates across the city in various locations it encourages visitation and activities in areas of the city which one might otherwise ignore. In this way it also presents a new way to navigate and locate oneself within the cityscape, engaging with the public overtly at first, but overtime becoming a sublime marker on our internal compass.
In terms of the style, it is to be determined by each city, reflecting the character of its communities and future ambitions of its people. For some cities, a unified classic aesthetic may be the appropriate choice. For others, a more modern glass-and-steel or 3D printed construction could represent the future forward outlook of the residents. Or perhaps a various mix of styles to visualize the vibe of distinct neighborhoods.
Additionally, the usage of these structures is open to interpretation. Think of them hosts of the city spirit. For example, the mayor might give public addresses at the East Gate. Or the West Gate might host a pop up art gallery. The marathon might end under the North Gate. And the Central Gate might house an observation deck. I can even imagine a dedicated festival called Gathering at the Gates.
The possibilities are quite unlimited.