Va Va Voom

Va-va-voom is about unpacking that certain something - the seemingly intangible quality of amazing cities and their special fabrics.

The 'je ne sais quoi' quality may exist at the building level or, at the scale of urban blocks and their configuration. It can be brought about by the designer, local community, or in collaboration. For example, at the building scale, it may be a one-off ‘special’ such as Gaudi’s Casa Mila or local resident's who personalise the front of their home in a special way. Whereas, when streets and buildings work together, in concert, and they possess a sufficient amount of order, with smatterings of irregularity and spontaneity, this is when urban form often flourishes. For instance, a 'special', stand alone or pavilion building, such as St Paul's Cathedral in London, can distance itself as a proud and unique object, amongst the more ordinary but reliable backdrop of the city.

There are many other examples involving streets and blocks that work together, bringing dynamism and energy - to what is otherwise a rigid grid system. Perhaps the most iconic is in New York, whereby the rebellious diagonal of Broadway, juts across 5th Avenue, resulting in the bold but elegant Flat Iron building. Other, not-so-famous instances of blocks, shaped by unconventional street geometries, are the Generali building in Jerusalem and the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Helsinki.

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