Identity: What makes a place a whole ?

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House near Ballachulish, Scotland

La Défense, Paris

Is a place a whole? Do we want places to be a whole?

Often we do, in Alexander's sense, that they possess that sense of fulfillment that he calls "the quality that has no name." (Alexander 1979) But that does not mean that the place has no internal contradictions, or that all its multiple identities are neatly overlapping rather than conflictual.

We know that dream of harmony, the idealized small town, not its reality. The Plan of St. Gall. Then the dream reappears as a suburban dream, not its Edge City reality.

In the time of images and nets, even the monasteries move in wider circles, are invaded by economic processes and larger activity patterns. It was really ever thus, despite the monastic dream of placid harmony, but now the connections are more energetic and rapid.