Place & the Built Environment
The "Built Environment" is just that – structures created by people that make up a town, including stores, homes, places of worship, schools, libraries, offices, and monuments. Streets and sidewalks are an important ingredient too, as are bike paths, parks, plazas, and other purposeful alterations to the land.
An artistic, historic built environment designed to people-scale helps shape "sense of place." A modest street of stylistic, coordinated buildings does more to create "place" than a large downtown mall or parking garage.
How individual elements relate to one another is important. Strive
for harmony. A sense of place is not just about one building, however
magnificent it might be. The way the pieces fit together creates a
community’s fabric (yes, "harmony" and "fabric"
can be described). And the way a community cares for its built environment
sheds light on local values and histories.
"Density" is not a bad word, and we should set aside images of grimy, crime-ridden tenement housing when considering our living and working patterns. Compact communities are economically more efficient, save natural resources, promote neighborliness, and are better suited to mass transit.
Grand civic buildings nourish citizenship (see Section 5). They represent a commitment to learning (schools and libraries) or democracy (city halls, post offices); and they can help define the anchor or center of a place – such as a town square or main pedestrian district.