Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Strolling in Sitges

Walking around in the older parts of Sitges, a small town on the Spanish Mediterranean west of Barcelona, I was struck (as I had been before) by how different pre-automobile streets are from the ones I’m more familiar with in Australia and the US. How different to walk around in spaces that were not built to accommodate two lanes of traffic! I’m so used to urban space and even house design dominated by the needs of our machines that the shift in scale, distances between buildings, sharpness of turns, the distance that we can see — everything about the built environment — brings me a kind of odd happiness. The space makes me, as a pedestrian, feel like the centre of attention instead of an after-thought or interloper on what is really ‘car space.’ Even ‘pedestrian malls’ in the US and Australia are more like ‘temporarily taken away from cars’ spaces if they’re outdoors; no community seems convinced enough of the pedestrian nature of space to actually make streets that are physically impassable in vehicles.

I’m not convinced it’s a ‘cultural difference’ between Spain and Australia, but I know that the difference in space gives a very different feel to most activities, including shopping, dining outside, sight-seeing…


One response

  1. jangothard

    When I was in Seville I was intrigued at being able to walk down a narrow street with my hands touching the buildings on either side of me. I didn’t think about the absence of cars (the motor bikes still made it through) but about the extraordinary age of the place, the cobbles beneath my feet, and the many many thousands of other hands over the centuries which, like mine, must have touched those walls.

    June 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

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