Urban versus Rural

As the developing world becomes rapidly urbanized and megacities reach the population levels of small and middle-sized countries, the rural areas of the developed world are also experiencing a fundamental shift, through depopulation, repopulation (of a different demographic) and the continuing industrialization of farming. The challenges that we face, in keeping both city and country habitats safe, sustainable and culturally and socially attractive are enormous, but also incredibly exciting. In the first edition of the new Roca Gallery website, we look at these challenges through the prism of architecture and design, two disciplines that are physically, emotionally and economically shaping the urban and rural worlds. Perhaps no other city defines the power of architecture and conquest of engineering and construction like New York. But as president of the AIA’s NY chapter Benjamin Prosky explains, the challenge is to lessen the carbon emissions of existing buildings, which research suggests are greater than that of its famously dense traffic. In an opposite approach, writer Jonathan Bell looks at architects who incorporating large-scale ‘natural’ elements – forests, vast green spaces and other topographical elements – into mixed use urban projects. The Australian outback is one of the most remote places on earth. Journalist Ben Morgan writes about an unusual partnership between a local indigenous artist and two city-based designers, using the discarded debris of this harsh and vast land. And acclaimed Spanish designer Martín Azúa gives a poetic and personal account of how nature, and natural materials inspire and influence his work. But it’s not all about us. Canadian writer Karen Burshtein meets the most forward thinking of animal habitat designers; specialists who are constantly researching how to make strange creatures thrive in the big city.