During a mini break from work, I went through my list of places to visit and noticed two commonalities among my dream places: they either are near bodies of water, or picturesque towns or villages with a strong architectural identity. Why do we gravitate toward these villages? We don’t necessarily want to live in one but a visit would be quite charming. Is it the simplicity and quaintness that attract us when we may in dire need of “uncomplicating” and uncluttering our lives? Did it come from all the English novels which led imaginations into the Bennets’ drawing room or the roads traveled by Ms Marple? Did Norman Carver let us to yearn to visit these villages with his series of exquisitely photographed towns? Do towns with homogenous architecture give us a sense of community that’s lacking in cosmopolitan cities? Does it feel more secure to be in a place where everybody knows the latest news in town without a formal neighborhood watch group? Or is it akin to liking a photograph where color restraint is among the most useful tricks? Restraints and limitation in use of color, materials or forms create the uniformity that’s so endearing in the many charms of the town.
Whatever the answer is to our obsession with town life, culture and flavors, the sense of commune is undeniable in the undercurrent of the attraction. For an architectural enthusiast, the added dimension of how the inhabitants juggle a common architectural language and arrive at such varieties in composition and texture is one of the most interesting exercises displayed around every corner of the village.
“It takes a village”. When I walk through a village that has taken years of patina and wear through the ups and downs of time, I sense its collective wisdom in the traditions the inhabitants maintain and the new business life they adopt. What does a town do to keep the children from going to the big towns, to maintain their lifestyles and indigenous habits without suffering financially and to resist the relentlessly on coming modernization?
Sometimes, I feel I don’t need to know the real gossip of the town. It’s plenty for me to come up with story threads of my own. Isn’t part of traveling to let our imagination run amok within the magic realities of the places we visit? Dream places are places for us to dream, not just places that we dream to go to.