When driving in San Francisco, one alternarely guns the engine up a hill or burns brakes on the way down before finally coming up against a wall that terminates the street. There the vehicle must be left behind and the journey continued on foot. Only the use of stairs allows one to negotiate the incline that separates two parts of the street.
The entire length of this route offers a succession of visual experiences: a view of the street mounting toward the sky framed by appartment towers; a breathtaking panorama of the city in its setting; a breakneck descend between clapboard houses, another skyward climb framed by attractively trimmed houses; a close-up of exuberant gardens at the end of private driveways; and finally a fantastic view of the bay and the Oakland bay bridge.
From each hilltop one can see how the bay outlines the boundaries of the area. Each hillside holds a mirror to the other so that the city can constantly admire itself. In a grandious landscape where bridges and highways unite sea and land and where every hill forms a neighborhood, Nature and Architecture blend to compose a city that is alternately triumphant, modest and familiar.
Like most American cities, San Francisco develped along an orthogonal matrix or grid. The topography of the side on which the city was built, however, was extremely rugged, with no-less than forty-two hills. The traditional urban grid used on flat land in this case met with a rebellious and as-yet untames environment. The result is an unusual phenomena: the streets are straight but rise and fall like roller-coasters. The settler's tool for urbanization and the relief of the land engaged in a battle that defied an obvious rationale. Why didn't the city adapt to its setting as common sense would dictate?
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Florence Lipsky is a french architect. 2005 she received the Prix de l Équerre d'argent.
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Book Description PARENTHESES, 1999. Book Condition: Neuf. Bookseller Inventory # 9782863640777
Book Description Editions Parenthèses, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M2863640771
Book Description Editions Parenthèses, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P112863640771
Book Description PARENTHESES, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. first edition edition. 160 pages. French language. 11.02x9.45x0.55 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 2863640771