Architecture, Art March 21, 2011 By Nalina Moses

     The photos highlight each city’s unique relationship with the landscape. In Quito the entire city seems to spill gently outwards from the top of a hill. And in Antwerp modern apartment blocks are positioned at right angles from one another on flat lawns with an unflinching rationalism. Images of less-photographed cities are especially revealing. We’re all familiar with the picturesque views of midtown Manhattan and the Seine River in Paris that are on display. But Nairobi, a lively mash-up of steel-and-glass towers, low colonial structures, and stucco mosques, seems like another type of city altogether.
     The photos in “Cities” suggest that despite unifying global economies and technologies, our cities unfold in ways that are deeply rooted to place. And they suggest that our cities, however strongly regulated, are structures that grow and decay according to their own internal rhythms. The endless fabric of faded, stucco apartment buildings in Havana resembles an organic growth. And the dense spread of small houses in La Paz has the feeling of a beehive. Urban planners are becoming increasingly aware that even seemingly disordered neighborhoods like slums, while lacking infrastructure and amenities, support vibrant informal economies and societies. Sze Tsung Leong’s photos seem to suggest that even our most modern cities are vital, self-sustaining creatures, continually reshaping the way we live inside of them.

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