Ambulating is a process by which metaphor lives; we both see, perceive and realize metaphor.
By Barie Fez-Barringten
email me to:bariefezbarringten (at) gmail.com
I was formally introduced to the concept of “ambulating” in Spain. “Ambulatoria” is a custom people perform at night before dinner following the after rest and/or work. It is what we did on Southern Boulevard and similar to so-called “window shopping”.
Except in Spain and other European cities you don’t shop, but rather you walk to talk, look at eachother, say hello, nod, and wink; perhaps flirt, perhaps gossip, etc. Ambulating in this way is not walking to get somewhere or necessarily see things. I regard ambulating as a crossover behavior connecting rural and urban populations. It is form of socialization.
Arabs and Orientals ambulate in souks and shopping streets while Europeans ambulate in Plazas and commercial boulevards and Americans on shopping streets and now Malls (an invention of Austrian Architect: Victor Gruen) .
It is, however, what I have done in hundreds of Cities I have visited and what Baedecker calls “walking tours”: where you purposefully plan or randomly walk the streets seeing, finding and discovering building, details, statues, stairs, alleys, doors, gateways, fountains, etc. Yes, the features of buildings. And, the features of streets, the pavement, cobble stones, tiles, patterns, street furniture, benches, carvings in stones, walls, monuments, facades of buildings, lanterns light post, etc.
Indeed, such walking and ambulating has been my life’s recreation and access to experiencing the art form of my choice: architecture. Interior design was terminal and has to be seen inside of the buildings and in all my walks I’d try to enter wherever I could. Like music, theatre, ballet, writing, etc. ambulating and walking is, too, an art, and a way of experiencing the world’s built arts: architecture, buildings, infrastructure of streets, etc.
As a child I would awake before the mornings light and without shoes I would go out of our home and walk the empty streets, exploring the alleys, stairs, fire escapes, sewer’s, manholes, back alleys and streets. To see, know and understand the details of what I rushed by in the day. I had an intimate experience of the context. One of the things I enjoy walking in Manhattan is the many ways to cross the NYC grid.
Many of the streets in Saudi are devoid of pedestrian traffic. It is as though you were in a suburb while being in the middle of a big city. Yet pedestrians can be found in malls and suks but not wandering the streets. I recall being in the city of Bari in Italy and noticing the same thing. I also noticed this in East Berlin before the wall fell. Most people go to and from their destinations by car and the few who travel by foot do not loiter. In contrast I can recall how I felt in Dubrovnik in 1963 when I’d walk down the streets the men and women who filled the streets looked me over: up,down and sideways. Women looked you in the eye, smiled, and welcomed me. The street language was open, communal and very friendly. I only mention this to note the difference in Saudi.
I enjoyed walking on Bronx back streets, Southern Boulevard, the board walk in Brighton and Coney Island and bare footed on any NYC city street after they’ve been freshly washed by rain very early in the morning before they get crowded with people.
Streets of New York
Made up of cement insitu formed from naturally deformed quartz feldspathic rocks, such as the highest finite strain as a mylonite, in which quartz is completely recrystallized or present as ribbon grains forming continuous and almost planar layers over large distances. These quartz or biotite layers accommodate most of the deformation. Fractured feldspar is concentrated in layers. Thus, the dominant deformation process in these granitoids is intracrystalline plasticity in monophase layers (quartz and biotite), which have formed by coalescence of these weak phases. Feldspar does not decompose chemically and does not recrystallize but is deformed by fracturing only. 3.5 mm.or variety of other species derived from the rock upon which Manhatten is built. The sidewalks are strong and even. They glitter and gleam. If you wear taps on your shoes you can hear them click as you walk. As a matter of fact tap dancing started on such streets.
Ambulating has allowed me to walk the streets and get lost in cities I know. I’d loose my self in the streets and find my way back to reality by somehow seeing a landmark or following the grid. I‘d enjoy seeing the lights, window displays, street people, fascades, etc. I’d especially enjoy winding up someplace strange. Occasionally, I’d meet some one like the time I followed and met a lovely model. In Manhattan, I’d walk in the rain, snow, day and night. I’d occasionally find a bar and have a drink or after a party I’d walk and feel the combined rush of the alcohol, cold night air and the glitter and gleam of the city. On such occasions I’d particularly relish the design and width of the sidewalks.
Other times I’d walk to and from work, to my garage, shopping in different ways. On the weekends I’d bus to the “Y” and later The Yale Club of New York City. On a Saturday afternoon I’d go to a movie and walk Broadway. I particularly found it thrilling to walk the dangerous streets of forty second street between sixth and eighth where twenty five years earlier my little brother and friends would go to the so-called “laugh” theatres to see,for example, the Marx brothers,Abbot and Costello,Three Stooges, etc. Now these streets were lined with dope peddlers and prostitutes. I’d do the same thing in Europe, using maps and classified ads I’d perambulate the cities streets, seeing its landmarks, rivers, bridges, public transportation, restaurants, CBD, residential and private zones and then in the evening investigate the other side of the cities night and cosmopolitan life. Within a short while even local resident’s did not know their city as well as I. I’d look for the local candy store, grocer, music shop, etc.
Yes, using my childhood street models I tried to find the cultural anchors of the neighborhoods. I understood and enjoyed the hierarchies of building, neighborhood, section, borough, city and country. I could see the metroplex and understand the inner connections of people to their artifacts, modes of transportation and resources. It was always as lovely to me as a symphony and as an especial work of art. The city is a work of art and to me shall always be one of man’s finest achievements.
As an architectural designer it is the process by which you think about a potential user's experience of a work. although the metaphor itself, the building, is static, the design, as its' imagined thought of the finished product, is dynamic as is the experienced amublating.
It is ambulating, movement, changing perspectives which the ambualtor does that is the expeience of the metaphor and the reason why metaphor, building design, use and design are so linked. The designer connects the spaces in which functions will be played and the user ambulates through through those spaces recalling the desiged ambualtions. Whether a boulevard, corridor, connected boxes, alleys etc, ambulating reveals the design as the design forms the paths.