A Mixed Use City…

In Architecture we use the term ‘missed use’ to describe a building which has multiple functions and program areas. For instance, a mixed use building could have an tea shop, a pub a yoga studio and some apartments.

Berlin is a mixed use city. I don’t mean just that it is diverse. All cities this size are diverse. I mean that every single element of life is intermingled spatially with all the other elements. A block of apartments will have shops and restaurants underneath and a park close at hand. Ancient market buildings are steps away from night clubs and office buildings. There is no new par of town and there is no old part of town. Churches and museums are sprinkled evenly across the landscape. (Museum Island is the exception that proves the rule). Walking strait along a single street will yield so much evenly distributed diversity that it becomes homogeneous.

I cannot help to compare Berlin to Pittsburgh. And as a true Pittsburgh Native, I believe I will be comparing every city I encounter to Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. Pittsburgh is also a diverse city, but it is inconsistent and clumpy, if you will. For instance, If you want to go out to eat, the Strip District with its over abundance of food come to mind. The universities tend to bunch up in Oakland, the stadiums on the North Shore and the bars in the Southside. As you can see, bunches and clumps have appeared for whatever reason. Now it may be that I have not yet been here long enough to know about Berlin’s clumps, but I don’t think I am that obtuse. I have been here a month already.

I must also note that simple geography might account for the difference. Hills may lend themselves well to clump formation. I have only seen two hills since I have been here. I remember them well and I could point them out on a map for you because I was quite excited when I saw them. Berlin is very flat which is an unnatural environment for Pittsburgh natives. Hmmmmm, it seems I am thinking of home quite a lot today. I am not homesick yet, though, I am merely anticipating seeing my hills again. Indeed, I am not at all ready to leave yet..