Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by cities. It started off with a love of their architecture – of how the built environment reflected usage. It helped that the nearest city to where I grew up was London, which is a pretty nice city to have on your doorstep.
Over time I realised that the architecture, and the cityscape of which it was a part, reflected the complex confluence of a range of competing pressures. All cities seek to reconcile transport, recreation, residential and workplace needs in a finite space. They are the original system of systems – and they’ve been on the rise for the past 10,000 years. Since 2008, the world has been predominantly urban.
My fascination with cities only grew when I came to Asia 15 years ago. Up until then, I’d imagined cities to be static things that endured. On seeing Manila, Singapore, Jakarta up close and personal, I realised that what man raises up, can be torn down quickly enough. I saw for the first time that cities were always in a state of flux – that the planning decision which made sense 10 years ago can quickly be overtaken by events on the ground. Seeing the city as a slate that can be wiped clean was a very different approach to the one that I had grown up with.