How Our Cities Keep Us Single (And Why That Has to Change) | ArchDaily


BIG’s Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square. From archdaily.com.

This article from Vanessa Quirk is a little bit old, but I’m really glad I came across it, because it really gave me something to think about. In it, she brings up Desmond Morris’ comparison of the city, not to a concrete jungle, but a human zoo, where people are crammed together in small cages and where animals are less likely to breed.

Quirk discusses a number of issues that relate to this topic. Large cities provide an anonymity that makes it easy to form fleeting relationships and to break up. As humans, we have trouble relating to people outside of a small group–what some call the monkeysphere–and so the people we see in the city who are not part of our inner circle fade into the background.

Morris says that we prefer small, contained spaces where we can connect to people. Quirk cites the High Line in New York and the compact green spaces of Washington, DC as urban places that are more compatible to relationships. The point that she comes to is that “the description of a city designed for love – compact, walkable, with green, open spaces, and distinct neighborhoods (where people of a feather can flock, according to their tastes), is exactly the definition of a “healthy” modern city, where communities can thrive.”

It is a little hard for me to relate to some people, even my friends, as they look for love in the city. I got married when I was 22. The main reason is that I was lucky enough to find the right person at a young age, but it didn’t hurt that I come from a religion and a culture that emphasizes marriage and family, and that at the time I lived in a place where finding a spouse is strongly emphasized. But I know that the kinds of places Quirk describes are certainly places where I feel comfortable, and where I want to hang out with my friends, and especially my wife, and I can see how other people might use these same places as a space for relationships to flower.

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About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

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