I am writing now from Venice, an amazing little city in Italy. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Before I go on, I would like to share some pictures of the Netherlands where I spent the past four weeks. It is really a terrific place. Go, should you ever have the chance.
I learned a lot while living in the Netherlands. Beyond anything else, this country will teach you about design. No detail is left to chance. Sightlines and viewsheds are organized to bring the mind’s eye to the horizon, to the lonesome existential place that we each have in this world. Geometries are manifesting everywhere. Something from nothing, terra firma from an aqueous bath. Everywhere you look, something transports you back into the Old World. Massive windmills, cobblestone streets, urban wharfs in sunken canals. Beyond that though, it is all so fresh. I spent amazing moments with the very people who designed it, or at least some of it. As a place, the Netherlands is always still forming. Land is sinking, seas are rising, rivers are widening. Ecologies are being created, histories are being written, and lessons are being learned. It is all part of some sort of master plan.
As a student, I have been given incredible answers from indisputable teachers. I come from a place of organic development and I am only beginning to learn to see the human touch in my surroundings. The United States is remarkably different from Holland. I am drastically different from the person I was before I came here. I think that the biggest lesson I learned while making my home in the Netherlands is that transformation is everything. Change is all around, it is everything. Nothing is; everything is becoming. My mentor in Holland told me once “Change is the very essence of our practice.”
In Holland, the sky and the sea are the same. A thin line of stoic, manicured trees someplace there in the distance makes you think that they are separate. The truth is though, that which we create is all that comes between these two.
As I progress along this journey from a country a few hundred years old to a city dating back more than a thousand, I am enthralled by this process of discovery and change. Venice is, by all accounts, “Che bella questa citta!” But it wouldn’t be any sort of destination without the journey one makes to get there.