"Place character" is an inadequate diagnostic

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Pei's pyramid at the Louvre, Paris

Superposition in urban life

The notion of character does not provide adequate diagnostic tools. It remains too strongly within the arena of aesthetic questions about perception, which do not get to the root of the problems today, and which suggest inadequate solutions.

The unity of a place occurs more importantly in its grammar than in its perceived qualities, and it is in their grammars that contemporary places are most different.

Since today multiple or loosely linked place grammars often coexist or overlap in the same area, it would be wrong to expect each of them to correspond to a distinct unified character, although each may make its own subdivisions and assignments within the area. It is also possible to have adjacent places with quite different social grammars existing in neighboring areas that are architecturally indistinguishable from one another.